If you work in the library, every week is library week. But right now it’s official: We’re midway through this year’s National Library Week. This celebration of libraries began 60 years ago as a book promotion. According to the history provided by the American Library Association: In the mid-1950s, research showed that Americans were spending less on books and more on radios, televisions and musical instruments. Concerned that Americans were reading less, the ALA and the American Book Publishers formed a nonprofit citizens’ organization called the National Book Committee in 1954. The committee’s goals were ambitious. They ranged from “encouraging people to read in their increasing leisure time” to “improving incomes and health” and “developing strong and happy family life.”
In 1957 the committee launched National Library Week with the theme “Wake Up and Read!” to encourage reading, and by extension, the support of libraries. Sixty-plus years later, this message still resonates. Yet libraries these days identify with more than books. “Libraries=Strong Communities,” this year’s theme, is also a good description of the library’s role in 2019. The Montrose Library contributes to a strong community by providing resources of many kinds, encouraging reading, assisting patrons with diverse informational needs, offering free educational programming, and supporting lifelong learning.
National Library Week spotlights different aspects of library service. Tuesday was designated National Library Workers Day, a day to recognize the valuable contributions made by all library staff. We have thirty-three employees at the Montrose Regional Library District. Some of them serve front and center in the Montrose, Naturita, and Paradox libraries and on the Bookmobile. Others work behind the scenes, keeping the library running smoothly through cataloging, bookkeeping, IT support, administration, building maintenance, and groundskeeping.
National Bookmobile Day followed on Wednesday, to recognize the nation’s bookmobiles and the professionals who make high-quality bookmobile outreach possible. Our dedicated Outreach librarians take the library out into the community every Thursday, visiting the Olathe Town Park, Olathe Elementary School, River Meadows Housing, and the Montrose and Johnson Early Childhood Centers. The Bookmobile pops up at community events all year long: look for us next weekend at the Earth Day Summit at the Ute Indian Museum.
Today is Take Action for Libraries Day, a day to speak up for libraries and share your library story. Post photos, videos, or text on social media highlighting what you love about your library, whether it’s a way your library brings your community together or a few of your favorite library resources and activities. Share by noon on Saturday, April 13 using the hashtag #MyLibraryMyStory on Twitter or Instagram or on the I Love Libraries Facebook page for a chance to win a receive a $100 VISA gift card from the American Library Association.
Finally, take time tomorrow for Drop Everything and Read Day, a national celebration of reading designed to remind families to make reading a priority activity in their lives. This special day occurs each year on April 12, the birthday of beloved children’s author Beverly Cleary. On this day, families are encouraged to take at least 30 minutes to put aside all distractions and enjoy books together.
If you missed this year’s observation of National Library Week, don’t worry. We’re here all 52 weeks of the year, and we’re always glad to see you in the library.
Tania Hajjar is assistant director at the Montrose Regional Library.