| By Gale Staff |
National Library Week is April 23-29, and what better time to honor the many contributions of public librarians? At Gale, we strive to create products that help elevate their hard work, but librarians are the ones who create the magic and instill a lifelong love of books in all of us. National Library Week is a fun chance to recognize everything that libraries (and the amazing people who work in them) offer us. After all, libraries are so much more than organized collections of stories (though that’s certainly part of their charm).
This year, the American Library Association (ALA) has chosen “There’s More to the Story,” as 2023’s National Library Week theme. So let’s take a moment to shake the dust off those book covers, polish our library cards, and consider how to celebrate the invaluable ways in which libraries and librarians transform our communities.
Find Ways to Celebrate
Whether something small like thanking your librarian for a book recommendation or perhaps a grander gesture like actually paying your library fines, there are all kinds of creative ways to observe National Library Week. The ALA highlights certain key events each day during the week to help bring awareness to our librarians’ hard work.
Monday: Check Out the State of America’s Libraries Report
Monday, April 24, marks the release of the State of America’s Libraries Report. Notably, this report includes a compiled list of the ten most frequently challenged books from the previous year. The Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF), which is a branch of the ALA, creates a controversial list of titles to raise awareness about the negative effects of censorship. The Top Ten Most Challenged Books demonstrate certain ideas that challenge the status quo. Past titles on the list include To Kill a Mockingbird, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the Harry Potter series, and even The Bible.
This list showcases authors willing to defy convention and highlight new perspectives. People will always have personal opinions about what kinds of books should be available to the public, but librarians help protect free speech by ensuring access to those “controversial” stories.
Tuesday: Express Gratitude on National Library Workers’ Day
Tuesday, April 25, is National Library Workers Day, so make sure you take a moment to thank your librarian or library staff member. Perhaps you might gift them a coffee or a sweet treat! These individuals perform all kinds of important tasks behind the scenes, whether organizing books so users can easily find them, guiding patrons in using the library’s free technology resources, or planning engaging events that help young children learn to read. If you can’t share your appreciation in person, you can always give your librarian or local library a shout-out on social media.
Wednesday: Read Everywhere on National Library Outreach Day
On the Wednesday of National Library Week, it’s time to recognize your library’s outreach initiatives. Does your library host a children’s story hour at the farmer’s market? Does your librarian assist with your child’s activities at school? Is there a pop-up library or bookmobile in your town? Libraries are so much more than simple buildings full of books. The library is almost always a stop on the route for cities with the privilege of public transportation systems. For areas without such mobility resources, librarians find creative ways to bring books into more accessible spaces. Your public library strengthens your community in all kinds of small, meaningful ways. Don’t take it for granted.
Thursday: Take Action for Libraries
April 27 is Take Action for Libraries Day. Libraries serve millions of people throughout the United States—all ages and backgrounds are welcome. Libraries are safe places that provide equal access to technology, literacy support, assistance with social services, and even tools for individuals seeking a job. Libraries are a fundamental piece of your community’s economic success. On the Thursday of National Library Week, take a stand. If you can afford to donate time or money to your library, please do so. Or, consider taking a moment to write to your local representatives about how much you appreciate the library and everything the library staff does for your town.
Friday: Find Time to Read
The ALA doesn’t have an official action item or activity for the Friday of National Library Week, so why not celebrate by doing the one thing that librarians would love for us all to do: read! Take some time to enjoy one of the classics or maybe just a story that makes you feel good. Perhaps you’ll discover a new title from the Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2022 list. And, of course, make sure you borrow your books from the library (whether a physical copy, the audiobook, or an e-reader version). There’s no better way to end the week!
Spread the Word
The ALA provides library staff and their motivated patrons with free resources to help bring attention to National Library Week. From posters and bookmarks to press releases and social media content, you don’t have to start from scratch. And, if you’re a librarian, you and your staff can also attend webinars and other web-based events that provide networking opportunities and platforms for sharing ideas across communities.
We can all play a part in spreading the word and getting more people involved with this week-long celebration. Post the ALA’s National Library Week schedule of events on your own social media, and share posters with your local school district so kids don’t miss out. Most of all, ask your librarian if there’s anything you can do to help!
When it comes to your local library, there is much more to the story. Sure, it’s a place to find a new favorite book to read or an oasis when your internet is down, but public libraries stand for something much bigger; they are a cornerstone of a successful democratic society. Libraries make information, technology, and opportunity available to everyone.
This April, consider how you might personally show support during National Library Week.
Ready to take action? Learn more about how Gale’s resources can support your local library.