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  • Writer's pictureKara C White

Library Love

While I rarely need a nudge to pick up a book, April provides plenty of motivation for some good reading. The month is littered with literary celebrations!



At the heart of all of these festivities is a deep 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 books, covers held 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 patiently 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 and the public library in my town were always available. Always helpful. Always welcoming. Always there for me.

 

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Libraries today offer 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. Librarians worked tirelessly through the pandemic to keep resources and services going even when doors were closed. They offer programming to young and old alike. They connect with patrons from every walk of life day in, day out.


But libraries currently find themselves in the spotlight and under fire. The American Library Association reports that the number of book titles targeted for censorship jumped 65% in 2023 compared to 2022, reaching the highest levels ever recorded. These demands to pull books from shelves at both public and school libraries often come from members of small but well organized pressure groups who want dozens of titles removed. Books representing the voices and stories of LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC individuals made up nearly half of titles targeted in censorship attempts. Some states are considering legislation which would place restrictions on books allowed in public or school libraries, potentially leading to criminal charges or jailtime for librarians or school officials. Librarians and library workers across the country have reported being harassed or intimidated while on the job.


Libraries and the people who have dedicated their lives to them need our support more than ever. Learn more about what is happening nationwide and in your community. You can find resources from the American Library Association, PEN America, Unite Against Books Bans, and many groups. Make your voice heard!


I love the library, and even if you haven't visited one in a while, I'm guessing you like the library, too. Libraries hold unique places in our hearts and in the hearts of our communities. 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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