By Jennifer van Pelt
What is National Library Week?
April 8th kicks off the 60th anniversary of National Library Week. This week is focused on the importance of books and libraries as well as their contribution to society. Libraries and their patrons across the country are encouraged to participate via social media, contests, events, and fundraisers. The American Library Association (ALA) has partnered with several notable advocates and authors over the years with the goal of promoting reading and the usage of libraries.
Why The Focus on Libraries?
April is also designated by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) to be School Library Month. These two celebrations remind us of the importance of libraries beyond the obvious destination for books. Libraries are a free resource where members of the community can learn to read at any age, get the support needed to find a job, or bring their children to participate in read-alouds.
It is important that children have this exposure to books, and libraries provide the perfect opportunity with their knowledgeable workers and friendly volunteers. Librarians understand that not everyone is literate, so they provide tutors to help teach reading skills, a safe environment to learn about books, and the means to show children the value of reading. At Words Alive, we serve low-income, and sometimes homeless students. School and public libraries are the ideal place for them to go to learn and participate in a variety of activities that can also further their literacy skills, including homework help and art workshops.
What Can I Do To Support Libraries?
Thursday, April 12, is particularly focused on advocating for libraries and taking action on what matters. This year, Take Action for Libraries Day, will be centered around safeguarding funding that libraries depend on. This involves reaching out to local politicians to show your support for libraries, as legislation and tax reforms can affect them. Check your local library’s social media page to see if they mention something about this is in the works and see how you can help!
Alternatively, show your support by becoming a member at your local library! There are so many other benefits libraries provide aside from borrowing books. Most libraries partner with various volunteer groups to help out with topics such as teaching English as a second language, tax preparation, job searching, family literacy, and even bike repair workshops! If you see a need in your community that your library doesn’t already offer a program for, reach out and see how you can help. Libraries are always looking for regular volunteers to expand their reach into the community. You can also visit your local library’s website to see what upcoming events you can attend.
The ALA also has an ongoing initiative called Libraries Transform, an awareness campaign about the ways in which libraries transform lives. Sign up to be a part of the movement!
No matter what you do this week, take a moment to reflect on the ways in which libraries have impacted your life - and be grateful that libraries exist at all!