Monday, April 24, 2023

NLW to the Rescue

Just when I think I cannot stand the wholesale denigration of public libraries one more minute…

It’s National Library Week!

And not a moment too soon.

Columbia/HoCo has been roiling with the tempestuous waters of conflict ever since the announcement of the new Downtown Library. If online diatribes were enough, there’d be a tidal wave of negativity washing over the Lakefront right now. 

To be clear, there are different categories of “not liking” the proposal. I’m not here (today, at least) to, lay them all out with 8 X 10 color glossy photographs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one. Another day, perhaps.

What has been painfully disheartening to me are the comments from people who outright deny the value of libraries to the community. Period. 

Howard County may have reached the impressive number of 95 percent of the population having library cards. But the other five per cent are loud, loud, loud. And adamant in their ignorance.

My top two most outrageous statements would have to be:

1. Books are outmoded, so last-century. So why do we need new libraries?

2. All libraries need is more money for e-books. I shouldn’t have to wait when I want one.

Friends, I despair. 

Just in the nick of time…

…National Library Week comes along to say there’s more to the story. Curious? Here’s a brief article with more information:

 “There’s More to the Story:” ALA Celebrates Impact of Libraries, Book Trib, April 20, 2023

Libraries support communities by providing more than just books and access to information. Communities can take advantage of internet and technology access, literacy and skill-building tools, professional development courses, job training, and so much more. This year, the American Library Association (ALA) will celebrate National Library Week from April 23–29, with the theme, “There’s More to the Story.”

Libraries bring communities together through a plethora of programs and services, such as book clubs, story time, movie nights, games, museum passes, special classes and lectures, to name a few.

What does that mean right here in Howard County? Well, here’s a link to the most recent library newsletter. (A new one should be out today.) It arrives in my inbox each week, jam-packed with information about resources available at the library as well as classes and events. 

Our libraries offer far more than simply print media. They do more than provide ebooks, too. They provide access to tools, music technology and other specialized equipment, art collections, puzzles and toys for young children, as well as classes, events, and one-to-one assistance. 

I don’t mean “libraries in general” or “libraries out there, somewhere”. I mean right here, right now in Columbia. In all of Howard County. And I’m sad for these folks who are on social media belittling our libraries because it means they haven’t ever availed themselves of any of the benefits that are here just for them. 

For all of us.

If you’re not already, get connected. Here’s the library system website. Here’s the most recent issue of Source. Here’s how to sign up for HiLights, the weekly e-newsletter I mentioned earlier. You will also find them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. If you love libraries, don’t keep it to yourself.

Tell people! Oh, and on Tuesday be sure to thank someone at the library, too.

If you’re interested in National Library Week, here’s more from the Book Trib article:

Monday, April 24: Right to Read Day, an inaugural celebration to acknowledge and promote the right to read and mark the one-year anniversary of ALA’s Unite Against Book Bans campaign; the 2023 State of America’s Libraries Report and Top Ten Frequently Challenged Books of 2022 will also be released on this day.

Tuesday, April 25: National Library Workers Day, a day for library staff, users, administrators, and friend groups to recognize the valuable contributions made by all library workers.

Wednesday, April 26: National Library Outreach Day (formerly National Bookmobile Day), a day to celebrate library outreach and the dedicated library professionals who are meeting their patrons where they are.

Thursday, April 27: Take Action for Libraries Day, a day to rally advocates to support libraries.

This song goes out to all the sad and lonely people who don’t know what they’re missing. There’s got to be some way we can share the love.

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