National Library Week 2024: Ready, Set, Library!

A decorative image with a sketch rendering of a girl sitting next to a pile of books, a girl checking out a book from a librarian behind a desk in the middle, and a stack of old books on the right hand side. Text reads "National Library Week 2024."

If you’ve been around these parts for a hot minute or two, you’ve probably seen mention of books here and there. I read a lot, and always have. As a kid in the 1990s who didn’t have cable TV, there wasn’t a whole lot else to do, haha. Since we rarely went to the public library, the library at school was always something I looked forward to.

What better segue into this week’s observance, National Library Week 2024?

National Library Week got its’ start in the 1950s, as a way for communities to honor their local library. The theme for 1958 was Wake Up and Read. This year, the theme is “Ready, Set, Library!”

Whether it’s a local, school, college/university, or niche library, they’re all important to communities. Libraries help make resources accessible to those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to do so. For instance, the only way I was able to use the internet back in high school was at the library. I didn’t have a computer at home at the time, and wouldn’t until well into college.

Some libraries also have things you can check out, like cake molds, sewing machines, etc. Sometimes, a library may even have equipment to make things, like Glowforges, Cricuts, and video editing tools. These are things I don’t have at home, and in the case of the Glowforge, I never will.

I thought I wanted one after seeing the ads for it on TV, but the one time I tried the library’s Glowforge made me change my mind and ultimately decide against it. In this instance, the library gave me the chance to see if it was something I really wanted, and gave me the opportunity to try it before I bought it.

In that case, it wasn’t a waste of my time. Now I know, and this is another way libraries are an invaluable resource for communities. If they have the resources to be able to have equipment to try out and use, or let us borrow for X amount of time, it gives us the chance to try before we buy.

I do have plans to convert my box of old VHS tapes to a digital format in the near future. They’ve been in the basement for at least 3 moves, so idk what kind of shape they’re even still in at this point. I’ll have to see. I’ll have to make a weekend trip over there, and count it as my walk.

Senior year of high school, I spent lunch in the library, and I’d use the library for story research. Not gonna lie, the extent of the story research I did was a school library, issues of Cosmo, and various TV shows.

I spent a huge amount of time in the library throughout college, and at that point, I discovered the joy of interlibrary loans. I had no idea it was possible to get books from other libraries to check out, and this is how I was able to get my hands on a copy of The Ismay Line. It’s a rare enough book that finding a copy that doesn’t cost a fortune is like finding a needle in a dozen haystacks. It’s a great read for sure, and I hope it comes to the Internet Archive’s library so others can read it too.

Another thing I noticed about the library is that it’s come a long way in recent years. Some libraries even have community pantries, which I don’t remember seeing or hearing of being a thing 20 years ago.

For many families, these community pantries are a lifeline, to say the least.

Looking back, I remember an incident at the library where a kid wanted to go inside, but the adults they were w/ wouldn’t let them. They continued walking by it, stating that they “don’t read.” This was many years ago, and it still stays w/ me. I hope that kid’s gone on to explore whatever was available to them at their school library instead. I also hope that when that kid gets the autonomy and the agency that comes w/ coming of age, they go to the public library and take advantage of everything it has to offer as their revenge against the adults who denied them the chance to explore the library all those years ago.

Literacy and education are essential for contributing to Dr. King’s Beloved Community. Take away libraries means taking away resources many out there otherwise wouldn’t have access to, and taking away the freedom of speech. Taking away libraries is a means of censorship, and that’s never ok in my book.

A great way to celebrate National Library Week 2024 is to go visit your local library, whatever that may be. Many libraries have outreach programs for those unable to travel, and if nothing else, there’s the Internet Archive you can visit anytime. Just sign up, and you can find all sorts of stuff to borrow for free.

In the words of Arthur, having fun isn’t hard, when you got a library card. Over to you, readers. How are you gonna celebrate National Library Week 2024? Got any stories about the library and how it means something to you? I’d love to hear your takeaways, so drop it all like it’s hawt, and let’s talk.

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