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
[caption id="attachment_2184" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Library service, Oregon, 1950s"][/caption]
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.