2018 marks the 60th anniversary of National Library Week (NLW). This year’s week kicks off April 8th with the theme Libraries Lead and the honorary chair Misty Copeland, principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre and author of three books.
But before we get to this year’s, how did National Library Week come about?
In 1954, the American Library Association (ALA) joined with the American Book Publishers to form the National Book Committee.
Not long after, according to Gary Landgraf, writing in American Libraries, a 1955 Gallup poll showed “almost two-thirds of adults had not read any book apart from the Bible in the previous year.” A 1957 survey later found “only 17% of Americans were currently reading a book. And spending on books was decreasing, as more of the country’s entertainment dollars went to televisions, radios, and even musical instruments.”
In 1958, the National Book Committee, in response to the surveys, developed and hosted the first ever National Library Week with the theme Wake Up and Read! It was so successful, Landgraf wrote, that “dozens of cities formed Friends of the Library groups.”
Much has changed over the years, including the number of distractions that fight for our time, such as online streaming services and pod casts. But one thing remains the same, libraries continue to be a vital and important part of our communities and should be celebrated.
This year the ALA nationally celebrates what and who make our local libraries great. On Monday, April 9th, the State of America’s Libraries Report is officially released and includes the top ten most frequently challenged books of the year. On Tuesday, April 10th librarians and more are celebrated with National Library Workers Day. Wednesday, April 11th, honors National Bookmobile Day, and on Thursday, April 12th, Take Action for Libraries. While these are nationally celebrated by the ALA, many celebrations are local.
For example, more than 100 Connecticut libraries will celebrate with Passport to Connecticut Libraries. To kick off NLW, Booth Library at Eastern Illinois University is hosting an Edible Book Festival on Monday, April 9th. And in Lock Haven, Pa., the Annie Halenbake Ross Library starts their week off on April 9th at 7 p.m., with the talk Secrets of the Ross Library.
There are plenty of ways you can celebrate National Library Week at your local library. Most public libraries host story times for children of all ages and who doesn’t love a good story? Perhaps start a book club, most libraries host several groups of all genres.
And it is not all books. Drop by your local library for adult coloring days, tabletop gaming for teens, art classes for children and “Unplugged” nights filled with stories and games for families. You can even get help with your taxes this week because almost every public library has classes to provide tax assistance as patrons prepare their taxes throughout the month of April.
So how will you celebrate your local library for National Library Week!
More links to check out: