| By Gale Staff |
People don’t often glorify public librarians. They can be quiet, helpful, and reliable, spotting you for the extra quarter you need for your printing fees or helping you prepare your summer vacation reading list. They organize story hours to entertain your kids. They curate a collection of books and media that feature old-school classics and mainstream indulgences. They help with advanced research and basic literacy. In other words—your community librarian is secretly a superhero.
For these reasons (and so many more), we celebrate National Librarian Day on April 16. It’s a chance to not only say “thank you” to your local librarian but to really show your appreciation. We’d like to highlight how public librarians contribute to and strengthen our communities.
Learn the History Behind One of the World’s Oldest Professions
The role of the librarian can be traced back thousands of years. After all, someone had to organize all those scrolls and direct patrons to the latest Aristotle book. Scholars believe that the first official librarian was a man named Zenodotus of Ephesus, who ran the ancient Library at Alexandria. While the contents and architecture of the famous library are lost in history, Zenodotus’ influence remains. He helped design a classification system by which he organized books into different rooms depending on their topic (a technique still widely used today).
Appreciate the Modern-Day Demands of the Job
A 21st-century librarian’s job description differs greatly from those of the 3rd century BC. The modern librarian must be well-read and tech-savvy. They can fix a printer, balance a budget, and recommend the latest in YA fiction. Unsurprisingly, this level of diversified expertise requires extensive training, and librarians must first earn a master’s degree to qualify for the position. A Master of Library Science typically takes two years to complete and encompasses everything from business principles to data analysis to artifact preservation.
Consider the Long-Term Impact of Your Local Library
The modern library functions as more than a book repository. These public spaces serve as tech hubs and education centers. Today’s libraries provide patrons with access to computers, printing, and advanced software. Many public libraries host free classes for computer literacy, citizenship, and language. Librarians often help guide individuals in need of social services, and they provide a safe space for everyone in the community. On hot or stormy days, libraries are a shelter for those who may not have a secure place to go. Librarians help children fall in love with reading, teaching the basic literacy skills that all people need to succeed. The public library is often called the great equalizer, offering shared access to learning to everyone.
Celebrate Your Local Librarian
Librarians carry so much responsibility, and yet they never waver under pressure. They are social workers, teachers, IT professionals, and friends. This April, who better to celebrate than your local librarian? We’ve gathered some fun ideas to show your librarian how much you appreciate them.
Create a Thank-You Card
Beyond simply saying thank you, why not design a fun thank-you card for your public librarian? If you have kids, invite them to help you. Maybe have them draw their favorite book characters on the card. If you have the budget, perhaps gift your librarian a little something extra. Quirky coffee mugs, homemade baked goods, and gift cards to local shops are all great ideas.
Pay Your Fines
Any late fees you’ve been avoiding? Perhaps you’ve misplaced a certain book that was due months ago. It’s okay—your librarian has no doubt seen it all. Still, public libraries, as important as they are to the community, are often underfunded. So, if you can afford to pay your fines, take advantage of National Librarian Day to settle your debts.
Ask your librarian if there are any volunteer opportunities. Libraries often host events and classes that may need some extra hands. Perhaps you can help with tutoring high schoolers, reading a book for a children’s story hour, or simply gathering books that haven’t been shelved correctly.
Ask your local librarian if the library has any specific budget or advocacy needs. Then, spread the word. Start a petition. Write to the city council. Attend a town meeting. Help plan a book drive or a fundraiser.
Most of all, just ask your librarian what they would appreciate most. Chances are, their only wish for National Librarian Day is to see the community enjoying the library. At the very least, swing by the library on April 16 and check out a good book. For more information and helpful tips, you can visit the National Librarian Day holiday page.