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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

National Library Week

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, April 17, 2011

This past week was the annual celebration of National Library Week, a national observance of libraries across the country.


Its purpose is to celebrate the contributions of libraries of all types, from public to school libraries, academic college and university libraries to special libraries of all types.


This year we joined the national effort to promote libraries with the theme “Create your own story @ your library.”


Our library system was thrilled to have over 7,000 people in Jefferson County join the effort to “Drop everything and read” for five minutes.  We had schools, businesses, and individual take a break and pick up something and read.


It is a new generation of reading, with the addition of e-books to the mix of traditional paper books.  Those small flat-screened devices that are taking over the marketplace join the paperbound books that have been around for 500 years as a method of passing information to people.


For those of us working in libraries, we witness the daily use of our libraries as people create their own unique stories through reading.


You can explore a far-away land, you can learn how to use new technology, or explore the unknown in a book, or e-book.


This year is special to our library system, as we are only two weeks away from the restoration of library hours to the public.


With the passage of the library levy last November, we are now calling back laid-off library staff and restoring hours that were cut in August 2009.


The honor of the first restored hours goes to the Toronto Branch Library, which will have restored Wednesday hours beginning April 27.


As I have said, the entire levy campaign was the largest promotional effort done by our library system, and it became clear the support and excitement that our area libraries have with the public.


The National Library Week celebration had its roots in the early era of television.


In the 1950s, research showed that Americans were spending less time reading books, and more time with radio and television.


The National Book Committee was born in 1954 to encourage people to read, improve income and health, and “develop strong and a happy family life.”


In 1958, the first National Library Week was held, with the theme “Wake Up and Read!”


Today, it is sponsored by the American Library Association during the second full week of April.


If you think about it, the importance of reading has only been strengthened with today’s technology and the computer.


You have to have good reading skills to use a computer, to surf the Internet, and complete online forms and paperwork.


Reading hasn’t changed; the tools that you use have changed.


It is the same with libraries, the basic purpose of a public library hasn’t changed, but the tools that we have at our disposal have changed.


Whether or not it is National Library Week, just drop what you are doing and pick up a book; and read a few pages.


Let your brain be your paintbrush and create your own story.