Since Brown's death in 2014, the library has transformed to fulfill many of the town's essential needs. It became an educational safe haven when local schools were closed due to the riots after the grand jury's ruling. The library also became an office for local businesses and a meeting space for anyone who needed it. Bonner and his team stepped up to serve the needs of their community the best way they could: by being librarians.
According to an article in American Libraries Magazine, "Bonner discussed modifying library policies to account for the changing needs of the area. The library even acted as an art gallery, being one of 14 venues that participated in the Alliance of Black Art Galleries’ 'Hands Up, Don’t Shoot: Artists Respond,' an art exhibition that featured more than 100 artists and ran from October 17 – December 20, 2014."
"We are far, far more programming-oriented. I knew when I took this job that I was going to try to make the library more responsive to the community. I didn’t know we would have to do it at lightning speed. It was a big shift from what the library did previously. When I started, there was no programming on the schedule. The previous director had watched her budget drop from $600,000 in 2008 to $400,000 in 2012, so she pulled back a lot on library hours and programming, like so many libraries have had to," – Scott Bonner
Thanks in large part to a flood of donations, increased funding allowed the library to start to address important issues through its programming, including the creation a teen newspaper, STEM/STEAM learning, and discussions about social justice and equality. Bonner told American Libraries Magazine:
"We still have healing kits [backpacks stuffed with a stuffed animal, children’s books about healing, and information about mental health resources; patrons check out the kits, return the books and the backpack, and keep the rest]. We just had a big box of stuffed animals donated for those. And our Readings on Race book club is doing really well. It was started by community member Carla Fletcher. She wanted to find ways for people to stop talking past one another on race issues, and help people find a common vocabulary. They meet once a month, and we usually have a diverse group of about 20 people show up. In my experience, that’s a really good turnout for a small library book club,"
When asked how the past year changed his perception of the Ferguson community and the library’s role in it, Bonner told American Libraries Magazine, "It has magnified my existing perception of what libraries are for and what they can do in a community. It’s given me a chance to take the community library idea and try it in hyperdrive."
Bonner and the rest of the staff at the Ferguson Municipal Public Library have proven just how important local libraries are to their communities. Public libraries are far more than book-lending institutions filled with old ladies saying "Shh." Instead, libraries are at the center of their communities and their staff members work effortlessly to unify, unite and better the people they serve.