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Check out your library in April

Library2What: Library usage boomed throughout the country during the recent recession as Americans turned to their local library for books, DVDs, and Internet access. However, as local governments’ budgets tightened, many libraries were squeezed financially, despite a bigger-than-ever patronage. During National Library Week, April 10-16, recognize how important libraries are to local communities and support them as institutions for learning, entertainment, and civic interaction.

Background: National Library Week was first celebrated by the American Library Association (ALA) in 1958. The week was created in response to a decreasing interest among Americans in reading and purchasing books. Many were turning instead to TV and radio for entertainment, and libraries were being less utilized. The event helped spark an interest in reading, motivating more people to support and use their local libraries. Today many libraries, including public, school, professional, and academic, sponsor the week with special events for patrons. Additionally, National Library Workers Day is held each Tuesday during the week, and recognizes the significant work of library staff. This week’s theme is “Create your own story @ your library.”

Story Pitch: Libraries will want to sponsor the weeklong celebration with events to help patrons learn how to better utilize their libraries and make use of the services they offer. Local authors and publishers will also want to support the week with readings and discussions at libraries. Libraries with a specific focus, for example, a medical or law library, can reach out to professionals and specialists in the field. Children’s groups and afterschool programs can share how libraries help children of all ages and backgrounds by providing a safe place to learn.

Story Hook: Libraries do far more than store books. Many libraries pride themselves on being information centers, embracing new technologies to help share information and knowledge with their community. How are libraries connecting with patrons and adapting to new trends, like social media and ebooks? How are budget cuts affecting libraries trying to implement new technologies? Consider the following as you make your pitch:

  • What important programs does a local library system offer its patrons? What is needed to keep the programs running?
  • How do community members use their local library? Does a local library serve a civic function?
  • What groups, organizations and activist boards support a library?
  • What makes a local library unique? How is it a reflection of the community?

Tips: Local librarians, especially head librarians of a large local library, make great contacts who can talk about issues libraries and library staff members face. Additionally, the founder or leader of a literacy program or reading group can talk about the role libraries play in bettering their community.

Resources:

American Library Association
(800) 545-2433
www.ala.org

Association of Research Libraries
(202) 296-2296
www.arl.org

Library of Congress
(202) 707-5000
www.loc.gov

Special Libraries Association
(703) 647-4900
www.sla.org

–Researched, compiled & written by Kristina Elliott
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