Today marks the beginning of National Library Week, when communities across the nation recognize the important contributions libraries and library workers make every day.
First started in 1958, National Library Week was initiated in response from research in the mid-1950s that showed Americans were spending more on radios, televisions and musical instruments than books. The goal of the campaign was to raise awareness about the resources available at school and public libraries and to encourage people to read more in their leisure time.
The American Library Association has carried the torch over the years since then, promoting National Library Week each year - usually during the second week of April. For 2012, the official theme for the week is "you belong @ your library."
This year's theme is meant to showcase diversity in both the materials available at your local library and in the people who benefit from patronizing their local libraries. Today's libraries truly do offer something for everyone, and likewise, everyone should feel at home there.
Whether you're a job seeker looking for resources to start a new career, a parent looking for free activities for children or a student searching for a school project or your next favorite book, it all goes to show that "you belong @ your library," according to the ALA.
Today's libraries help level the playing field on all fronts, making both print and digital information affordable, available and accessible to everyone. Libraries provide cultural heritage and genealogical collections, resources on local history, materials in print and electronic formats, job seeking resources, CDs and DVDs, Internet availability and online archives, and much more.
Libraries have historically served as the nation's "great equalizers of knowledge," according to the ALA. The strength of libraries has always been the diversity of their collections and commitment to serving all people.
We are fortunate to have many top-quality public libraries in the area. Unfortunately, all of them have been hit with major cuts in state funding in recent years, but thanks to committed boards, dedicated staff members and faithful patronage, our local libraries continue to thrive and play vital roles as community resources. But they need continued support.
We encourage everyone to celebrate National Library Week by patronizing - or even rediscovering - the many things our local libraries have to offer. We also salute our local librarians and library workers for making it happen this week and every week of the year.