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National Library Week

National Library Week And Right to Read Day Celebrating the Stories That Color Our Lives

| Angela Naff |

National Library Week, observed this year from April 7th to April 13th, celebrates the invaluable contributions of libraries and library workers to our communities. To kick off National Library Week, a campaign called Right To Read Day is celebrating year two in 2024 of efforts to stop book censorship throughout the country. Since its inception in 1958, this week has served as an opportunity to recognize the vital role that libraries play in fostering literacy, lifelong learning, and a sense of community among people of all ages and backgrounds.

A Rich Tapestry of Knowledge and Imagination

Libraries are more than just repositories of books; they are gateways to a world of knowledge, imagination, and discovery. Within their walls, we find a rich tapestry of stories, ideas, and information that inspire, educate, and enlighten. Whether in the form of books, digital resources, or educational programs, libraries provide access to a wealth of resources that enrich our lives and expand our horizons.

Empowering Communities Through Access to Information

At the heart of every library is a commitment to providing equitable access to information for all. Libraries serve as beacons of democracy, ensuring that every individual has the opportunity to learn, grow, and participate fully in society. From providing internet access to offering educational workshops, libraries play a crucial role in bridging the digital divide and empowering communities to thrive in an increasingly complex world.

Over the last few years, censors have accelerated their attempts to remove or restrict books and programs in schools and public libraries. In 2023, the American Library Association documented efforts to censor 4,240 unique book titles in schools and public libraries, a stratospheric increase from 2022’s previous record of 2,571 unique titles. These books include historically relevant literature, historical fiction, and other genres, and the list seems to grow with each passing day.

National Library Week

Cultivating a Love of Reading and Learning

One of the most significant contributions of libraries is their role in promoting literacy and a love of reading from an early age. Through storytelling sessions, book clubs, and summer reading programs, libraries ignite a passion for learning that can last a lifetime. By fostering a love of reading, libraries not only enrich individual lives but also strengthen the fabric of our communities. In my own life the love of writing, was fostered by the books I was able to check out at school, book fairs and especially libraries from the earliest of ages.

Now, many of the books I grew up adoring, and reading until the corners were ragged are considered ‘banned’ for content. Stories of people whose lives were not as I’ve every experienced myself, provided a platform to better understand and empathize with vast populations of people that I now interface with. Loud stories full of imaginative places, and topics taboo for the classroom, opened my mind to fanciful places and occurrences that have informed my style of writing down to this day. I believe that just like every book and person is uniquely different than the next, the right to choose what we informa our minds with should also be ours alone.

Building Community and Fostering Connections

Libraries are more than just places to borrow books; they are hubs for lifelong learning and personal growth. From workshops on financial literacy to classes on digital skills, libraries offer a wealth of resources to help people of all ages and backgrounds expand their knowledge and enhance their lives. In doing so, they empower individuals to reach their full potential and contribute meaningfully to society.

Perhaps most importantly, libraries serve as community centers, bringing people together and fostering connections that transcend age, race, and background. Whether through book clubs, community events, or cultural programs, libraries provide a space where people can come together to learn, engage, and share their experiences. In an increasingly digital world, libraries remain physical and virtual gathering places where communities can connect and thrive.

A Call to Support and Celebrate Our Libraries

As we celebrate National Library Week, let us take a moment to appreciate the profound impact that libraries have on our lives and communities. Let us recognize the dedicated library workers who work tirelessly to ensure that libraries remain vibrant centers of learning and culture. And let us reaffirm our commitment to supporting and advocating for libraries, ensuring that they continue to enrich the lives of generations to come.

In the words of author Neil Gaiman, “Google can bring you back 100,000 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one.” This National Library Week, let us celebrate the invaluable contributions of libraries and librarians to our communities and reaffirm our commitment to ensuring that they remain accessible to all. And sign on to help end censorship by groups with ulterior agendas and return the right to decide what books we read to the people.

Feature Photo Courtesy of Deposit Photos

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