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2018 National Library Week. Image courtesy of the American Library Association

5 Ways to Make the Most of National Library Week

Last week (April 8-14, 2018) was National Library Week – a time to celebrate the awesomeness of our nation’s libraries.

Sounds simple, but there are many ways (and reasons) to celebrate libraries. No matter your connection to the library, National Library Week is a chance to show your appreciation. The week may be over, but the fun doesn’t have to be.

One: Publicly showcase the library that’s impacted you.

InfoSpace authors (and current graduate students of the iSchool’s MLIS program) celebrated 5 libraries at Syracuse University. Take a peek at these posts:

Two: Feed a hungry librarian. Leave a thank-you note. Host an event.

Across the country, patrons and library employers showed their appreciation to library staff in the form of “spirit week” storytimes*, cartoons, breakfast buffets, rogue love notes on star-shaped post-it notes, donuts, tacos, employee awards, flower bouquets, cake, ice cream, cookies and homemade treats.

(*Imagine cute babies in costume.)

Three: Send a shout-out to the newly elected President of the American Library Association (ALA)!

ALA President Wanda Brown. Image courtesy of www.wandaforala2019.com
ALA President Wanda Brown. Image courtesy of www.wandaforala2019.com

For 2019-2020, it’s Wanda Brown for the win! #wandaforala19. Founded in 1876, the ALA is the oldest library association in the world.

Wanda is the director of library services at North Carolina State University’s O’Kelly Library, on the Winston-Salem campus. She has been an ALA member for 30 years,  held leadership positions in many parts of the association, received numerous awards, and is best known for her work with the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.

As ALA President, Wanda pledges to “expand the association’s efforts at recruiting and retaining library and information professionals as well as strengthen efforts to grow the  diversity of the profession; continue support for leadership development and training; and advocate for the freedom to read and for open honest expression”.

Four: Read the “State of America’s Libraries” report released by the ALA, and watch the accompanying video.

Too lazy for that? Good news – here is a quick rundown:

The Pew Research Center reports (in 2016) what library enthusiasts have long suspected to be true: librarians can help locate trustworthy information, and libraries provide safe spaces to work and relax.

In academic libraries, new research shows:

  • 6.2 millions students participated in instruction sessions
  • The top five new services are web development, open access institutional repositories, learning systems, digital humanities and digital media production.
  • “In the past five years, 21% of all academic libraries saw staffing increases, while 19% saw decreased funding and 60% reported flat budgets.”
  • “…more than 58% of academic libraries have changes their reference staffing models, with the most popular change being a switch to on-call staffing.”

In school libraries, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is making an impact:

  • For the first time, the federal legislation (signed by President Obama in 2015) includes specific language about “effective school library programs”.

In public libraries, the focus is on coping with the opioid crisis:

  • With approximately 16,500 physical locations in the country, public libraries face a number of issues. The opioid crisis is in that mix. WebJunction and the Public Library Association responded by creating a Facebook Page.

Bans and challenges to remove or restrict library material rose from 45 in 2016 to 91 in 2017. Nearly 56% of challenges take place in public libraries.

  • The #1 most challenged book was Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.
  • #2: The Absolutely True Story of Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.
  • #3: Drama by Raina Telgemeier.

Identified trends affecting libraries included:

MLS funding and network neutrality have been key national issues for American libraries.

Five: Get some swag. Get behind the celebration schedule.

In the 1950s, research seemed to show that Americans were reading less. The American Book Publishers Council and the American Library Association joined arms to form The National Book Committee. The first National Library Week took place in 1958, making this the 60th anniversary. The National Book Committee disbanded in 1974, but the ALA decided to continue sponsoring the event (“National Library Week History“, American Library Association, 2015).

Sponsorship now includes web-distributed swag and planned celebrations such as National Library Workers Day, National Bookmobile Day, and Take Action for Libraries Day.

The first-ever National Library Week theme was “Wake Up and Read!” and this year it was “Libraries Lead”. Themes have ranged from “America’s greatest bargain… the library” (my personal favorite) to “A word to the wise, library” (a close second).

Since 2008, National Library Week has featured an Honorary Chair. This year it was Misty Copeland, American ballerina.

Key takeaway?

Put on your dancing shoes – or your bifocals – and celebrate libraries.

Samantha Mairson

Samantha Mairson

Samantha or Sam, I like to be surprised. My goal here is to promote, capture, and express the Syracuse iSchool experience through digital media and design-oriented blogging. At the iSchool, I'm an LIS student and I work as a program assistant for the Enrollment Management Team. My love for libraries brought me here, and I aspire to work in a great library. When I'm not working or schooling - food, fitness, and family are my priorities.

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