This week is National Library Week in the U.S., as sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA). The theme is "Communities thrive @ your library." Even though I reside in Canada, I am American by birth, so I still wanted to recognize this bookish holiday.
This week is meant to be "a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation's libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support." Neil Gaiman was named as 2010 Honorary Chair of National Library Week, which is pretty cool since I love his work. "An Evening With Neil Gaiman" will be be virtually hosted over the internet to kick off the week, in which he will speak to his lifelong love of libraries and the role they play in a democratic society by supporting intellectual freedom and privacy. The website offers a variety of resources for libraries that wish to participate in the various events, including tools for libraries that wish to help their communities through tough economic times. Other events listed in conjunction with National Library Week are:
-April is School Library Month
-Monday, April 12 - "The State of America's Libraries" report will be released.
-Tuesday, April 13 - Celebrate ALA-APA's National Library Workers Day
-Wednesday, April 14 - Celebrate the first annual National Bookmobile Day
-Wednesday, April 14- ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom will release the “Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2009” list. Visit the Banned Books Week Web site.
-Thursday, April 15 - Celebrate YALSA's Support Teen Literature Day
A bit of historical reference - the first National Library Week was held in 1958 in response to a growing concern over research that showed that Americans were spending less on books and more on radios, televisions and musical instruments. The theme was "Wake Up and Read!", and the National Book Committee (disbanded in 1974) hoped that once people were motivated to read, they would support and use libraries.
The only library that exists in the town I live in is part of the local school, and is so small that I keep a running list of books on order there. I'm thinking of inquiring to be on the Board of Trustees, though I haven't got a clue what that even entails. A bookstore can't even survive here, though books are sold at the grocery store, pharmacy, and bargain store. I love the source of reading material and information that a library provides, and nothing compares to the smell, feel, and sight of row upon row of books, both new and well-used. In an age in which the printed word is beginning to seem archaic, what with the popularity of the digital format, I think that supporting the library system is more important than ever. A large part of the world simply can not afford to pay for reading material, even though literacy is an intrinsic part of survival in our modern culture. Without the invaluable tools and resources that a library offers, where would we be?