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Hurray for Libraries

April 13, 2010

In the mid-1950s, concerns were raised about Americans’ reading habits. Research showed that citizens were spending far more on radios, televisions and musical instruments than on books.

Sound familiar? Replace “radios, televisions and musical instruments” with “cell phone, computers and laptops” and it becomes clear.

Now, you can see why we need National Library Week and why we should have National Library Month.

Back in 1954, the American Library Association and the American Book

Library service, Oregon, 1950s

Publishers formed a nonprofit citizen’s organization called the National Book Committee. The NBC strove to encourage reading in leisure time. The goal was to “improve incomes and health” and develop a “strong and happy family life.”

Yeah, it does sound like Leave It to Beaver, but, seeing society today, that might not have been so corny.

Anyway, by 1957, the NBC had developed a plan for National Library Week (NLW). They hoped that once people were motivated to read, they would support and use libraries. With the help of the Advertising Council, the first National Library Week – with the theme “Wake Up and Read!” – was observed in 1958.

The NLW was so successful that it was done again in 1959. The NBC disbanded in 1974, but the ALA stepped in and assumed sponsorship.

This week (April 11-17, 2010), libraries across the country will observe National Library Week. This year’s theme is “Communities thrive @ your library” in a nod to today’s technological advances.

Fortunately for us, many school libraries will celebrate the entire month of April as School Library Month. Sponsored by the American Association of School Librarians (a division of the ALA). Also, Wednesday will be National Library Workers Day. Far from the smoldering brunettes who longed to take off their glasses, let their hair down and throw themselves at Humphrey Bogart, librarians and other library workers perform a valuable service to our communities. They play a big role in the education of our next generations, despite efforts by this and older generations to budget them out of existence.

So, let’s do our part and support our libraries. Visit them. Get your kids away from the television and computer and cell phone. Take them to a library so they can get lost in books.

Personally, I may have been heavily influenced by Creature Double Feature on TV, but I was stimulated and motivated by books at the library, to the point that I walked miles there and back. Even when I didn’t have school assignments.

Hopefully, we’ll have libraries around for many decades to come.

For more information on National Library Week and the ALA, visit their website at www.ala.org/@yourlibrary.


7 Comments leave one →
  1. April 13, 2010 4:46 pm

    Hey Greg, where is everyone. This is such a GREAT post today! History lessons are the best. You are so right, this should be an entire month of honoring the library and not just a week.

  2. April 13, 2010 5:11 pm

    I agree – I told you it was a great one! Excellent information and I learned something as well. Can’t beat that!

  3. April 13, 2010 6:44 pm

    Wow! I love learning new things, Greg. Your National Library Week is as old as me! I love the history angle also – it is so often that the roots of our current activities are overlooked and I am all for a little re-enlightenment on occassions such as this. Good one!

  4. April 13, 2010 9:31 pm

    Great post, Greg, and nice research. Funny thing, though, is my daughter’s school library is holding a book sale next week. Huh?

    • April 14, 2010 12:14 am

      That’s becoming a common staple of ALL libraries. Most public libraries have a group called “Friends of the Public Library” that raises money for library (due to budget cuts) by selling older library books.

      It helps make up for the budget losses and clears shelves for newer books.

  5. April 14, 2010 10:24 pm

    I remember when I was younger, the library was right around the corner, above the fire station. Spent many hours there. I don’t know if the library was directly responsible for starting my writing career, but it definitely had an influence.

    The irony? Today I went to my library and completely forgot about National Library Week. *Facepalm*

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