“Libraries Transform” is the theme for National Library Week 2017.  First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support. All types of libraries – school, public, academic and special – participate.  More information is available here.

On April 7, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Division for Libraries and Technology posted a video and blog article featuring State Superintendent Tony Evers and footage from the Lancaster and Beloit Public Libraries. Superintendent Evers talks about the critical role libraries play in their communities and talks about the devastating proposed cuts to the IMLS budget.

Observances during National Library Week include:

Monday, April 10: State of America’s Libraries Report released, including Top Ten Frequently Challenged Books of 2016.

Tuesday, April 11: National Library Workers Day, a day for library staff, users, administrators and Friends groups to recognize the valuable contributions made by all library workers.

Wednesday, April 12: National Bookmobile Day, a day to recognize the contributions of our nation’s bookmobiles and the dedicated professionals who make quality bookmobile outreach possible in their communities.

Thursday, April 13, has been designated Take Action for Libraries Day.  Read the press release.

National Library Week is a good time to think about the question, “How do the different kinds of libraries serve our local communities, regions and state?”

Each type of library does a different job. College and school libraries purchase materials to support the curriculum of their particular institutions. They are on the spot whenever teachers and students need them, providing equal access to all information resources.  This is especially important in a rural public school district where so many girls and boys must depend upon adults for transportation to the public library.

Students attending UW-Marathon County, as well as the Nicolet Area Technical College and Northcentral Technical College districts have a similar need for on-site libraries supporting their coursework.

Corporate and hospital libraries contain collections of information on particular subject areas. The employees, clients or patients who use these libraries need ready access to technical periodicals, reference materials and other sources that are often too specialized or expensive to be included in libraries serving the general public.

The “free” in free public libraries isn’t about cost, but about free and equal access to information regardless of income or location. While the means by which each public library realizes its annual operating budget is complex, shared community investment in what Andrew Carnegie called “the people’s university” allows everyone to take equal advantage of the service.

A public library’s overall mission is more generic. It serves the recreational reading and information needs of all persons in the community, regardless of their age, educational background or interest focus.  These days, that includes providing reliable broadband access, assistance to job-seekers and citizens seeking knowledge and new skills to re-enter the workforce. Lifelong learning is an important part of a public library’s mission, whether it be focused on early childhood development, inclusive services, literacy and other programs for all ages, or memory cafes for seniors.  With the coordinated support of Wisconsin Valley Library Service and 15 other public library systems around the state, citizens who use small rural libraries have as much access to all that much larger libraries are able to offer as those in cities.

All types of libraries work together to serve a community. For example, school and public libraries both teach children that learning is a lifetime process and reading is fun. Both formal and informal adult education is accomplished through use of college and public libraries. Special libraries are added to the mix through referral and inter-library loan.

Submitted by Kris Adams Wendt