I’ll be brief. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’ve benefitted from a library at some point. From story time in the children’s section to armloads of chapter books to discovering science fiction to researching for a school project to using their computers to look for work or even taking a dance class, there are many ways in which the local library enriches our lives.

Lately, folks have been noticing a different service libraries provide: safety. I suppose this is nothing new if you’ve had an abusive parent, been bullied at school, or been down on your luck and forced out of your home. But now, as reported by PBS, MTV, and Twitter among others, public libraries are becoming a place of refuge during civil unrest. When schools and businesses close, libraries stay open. Why?

“It’s at times like this that the community needs us,” library Director of Communications Roswell Encina told MTV News. “That’s what the library has always been there for, from crises like this to a recession to the aftermath of severe weather. The library has been there. It happened in Ferguson; it’s happening here.”

How can you help? Donations to the Pratt library in Baltimore can be made here. Support for EveryLibrary and the fight to save endangered libraries around the country can be given here. And you can support your own community by donating to your neighborhood branch. Even thanking them helps if you can’t afford to give. We need their service and their courage, both in times of peace and times of turmoil.