Celebrating National Library Week

Current Events, Librarianship
Shannon Furtak

"Without libraries, what have we? We have no past and no future." -Ray Bradbury

As a corporate blogger, I have learned to be politically neutral, succinctly informative, and unfailingly professional. If I have feelings on a particular blog topic, it is my duty to ensure that my emotions are not reflected in the words I write for our readership and on behalf of the company I represent. Today, I am gleefully hurling this philosophy of dispassion out a 10-story window, because I absolutely cannot hold back my enthusiasm about the subject of today's blog: LIBRARIES.

"I have found the most valuable thing in my wallet is my library card." -Laura Bush

For children, especially those growing up without much money and/or a voracious appetite for learning, libraries are the first step in what eventually becomes an educational marathon. Libraries offer an infinite number of doors into multiple subjects and worlds, both real and fantastical. They are a respite for exhausted parents trying desperately to keep their children thoughtfully entertained. Thanks to my local public library, I developed an understanding of the English language and a vocabulary which eventually helped me earn a full-tuition scholarship to the college of my choice. Even now, when I enter a library, the rest of the world with its deafening cacophony is instantly silenced and I'm overcome with a sense of peace.

Libraries offer opportunities to both children and adults who otherwise might not have them. Before iTunes, Netflix, Amazon, and everything-in-life-on-demand, libraries had unlimited free books, music, and movies. Before everyone owned multiple online devices, libraries had the internet, and beyond that, they had someone who could show you how to use it. That's right: in addition to the multi-media offerings of libraries everywhere, they also employ knowledgeable, kind, and efficient humans who are there to help everyone use the library's resources. Today is National Library Workers Day, and I would like to add my well-deserved THANK YOU to librarians and other library staff for their consistent dedication to knowledge, service, and excellence.

"Librarians have always been among the most thoughtful and helpful people. They are teachers without a classroom." -Willard Scott

National Library Week has been celebrated since 1958. It's sponsored by the American Library Association and observed by libraries across the country each April. All are invited to participate, including school, public and specialized libraries. The theme this year is Libraries Transform, which is certainly fitting; over the past several years, libraries have had to make significant adjustments to the changes in media output, budgets, and society in general. Here's just a snapshot of what you can do in many libraries across the U.S.:

  • Learn a new language
  • Listen to as much new music as you want (without sticker shock!)
  • Browse national and local newspapers
  • Check out bestsellers (without sticker shock!)
  • Obtain tax return forms
  • Download ebooks
  • Make photocopies
  • Use a 3D printer
  • Attend special events, such as author readings
  • Use the library's internet or wifi
  • Learn how to use social media
  • Look for a job (It's a safe bet that if you need resume assistance, you'll find a librarian willing to help)
  • Get tickets to local museums and attractions
  • Borrow audio books
  • Choose board or video games to borrow or play on-site
"A library is a place to learn what teachers were afraid to teach you." -Alan M. Dershowitz

Check out this Texas Bar Journal article, which discusses what the Texas State Law Library has innovated to make legal research accessible to all state residents. The effort, of course, was championed by none other than the library's own staff and is being lauded by Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht as "cutting edge."

We hope all of our librarian friends receive the appreciation they've certainly earned, and not just today or this week. Support your school's library, or your local library, by visiting often to take advantage of all available resources and services.

"Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest." -Lady Bird Johnson