Kara C White
While I rarely need an extra nudge to pick up a book, April provides plenty of motivation for some good reading. The month is littered with literary celebrations!
National Poetry Month (All April)
School Library Month (All April)
National Library Week (April 3 - 9)
D.E.A.R. Day: Drop Everything And Read (April 12)
El día de los niños/El día de los libros or Children's Day/Book Day (April 30)
At the heart of all of these festivities is a love of reading and recognizing the people who spark that love in others. Think back to the person who helped kindle that passion for books in your life. Was it a parent? A teacher? A librarian?
For many of us, some of the earliest memories of our reading lives revolve around a library. You may remember preschool story times or programs at your local public library or a school librarian who helped you find just the right book.
I can easily envision my elementary school library. It seemed huge to my young eyes with bookshelves lining the long walls, a media table with headsets built in, and the long counter where we would line up with our book covers open so the librarian could walk along and stamp the due date on the slip pasted inside.
My first school librarian was the aptly named Mrs. Page. She repeatedly helped me find a book about a little robot that I adored, even though I could never recall the title. Over the years, she eased me from easy readers to long chapter books. She taught me how to use the card catalog (yes, with actual drawers and cards). She blew my child mind when she explained the Dewey Decimal system, and I realized how the books were organized and not just put on the shelves in any old place.
While I might have become an avid reader without Mrs. Page, I know her influence shaped my early relationship with books and reading. The library at my school or the public library in my town was always available. Always helpful. Always welcoming. Always there for me.
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Libraries today offer even more resources than ever before. Now you can count on your library for computers and internet access, audiobooks and ebooks, movies, and more. At my local public library branch, kids can check out not just books about robots, but actual robots that teach coding and other STEM skills. Yet the most essential service offered at the library remains the same. Always available. Always helpful. Always welcoming. Always there for you.
Libraries hold a unique place in our communities because they are one of the last truly public spaces, where you can go without being expected to buy anything or to justify your presence there. Libraries also hold unique places in our hearts.
I love the library, and even if you haven't visited one in a while, I'm guessing you like the library, too. Librarians worked tirelessly through the pandemic to keep resources and services going even when doors were closed. Libraries currently find themselves in the spotlight with the recent alarming spike in book bans and challenges. (Find out why I read "banned books"). Library funding in the future is never a sure bet.
So whenever you interact with your library and library staff next, consider thanking the person behind the counter or shelving in the stacks. Libraries show their love to us. We can show our love back.
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