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Turn off the TV, open a book

It’s National Library Week!

SPRING VALLEY — Libraries all over the country are taking time this week to highlight their importance and the opportunities they bring to their communities. It’s National Library Week — a time to spotlight the significance of libraries, librarians and library workers.

This year’s theme is “Lives Change @ Your Library.” Popular children’s and young adult author Judy Blume serves as this year’s honorary chair for the week long event.

So, where did National Library Week come from?

Using the American Library Association’s (ALA) website, Barb White, head librarian at Richard A. Mautino Memorial Library in Spring Valley, explained in the mid 1950s, research began showing Americans spending less on books and more on radios, televisions and musical instruments. Concerned with this research, the ALA and the American Book Publishers formed a nonprofit citizen’s organization called the National Book Committee in 1954. In 1957, the committee developed a plan for National Library Week based on the idea that once people were motivated to read, they would support and use libraries. The first National Library Week was observed in 1958 with the theme “Wake Up and Read!”

“It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support,” White said.

Just how valuable are libraries?

“Libraries are the heart of a community,” White referred to the popular saying. “It means that (they are) the hub of the city.”

While explaining the reasons why libraries are beneficial, White listed all the happenings within a library on a daily basis.

“There are patrons in the library doing research, whether it be for curiosity or required; books are checked out for reading fun; children and their families attend story time activities and/or other special events; members of the community offer meetings and workshops; children with their families sign up for soccer; students meet and study with their tutors; patrons use computers to apply for jobs or take a test for a class; patrons check out DVDs and music CDs for entertainment; citizens call about information relating to other events and happenings in the community they want information about; genealogists, even from out-of-state, call and/or come into the library for past information or obituaries; people meet new people at the library and form lasting relationships; book clubs; knitting groups; people laminate items, fax and/or make copies, etc.,” she said. “As you can see, libraries are more than a building with shelves of books.”

Do patrons take advantages of library services?

While there are many who do, White said there are a few people who have never been inside a library and don’t understand what a library has to offer.

“Once we can get these people in the library, even if for a meeting, they start to see the many opportunities and return,” she said. “Another great marketing tool is by word of mouth from other patrons, which helps to encourage people to visit a library.”

At Neponset Public Library, Director Carissa Faber works to provide various opportunities to attract as many patrons as possible. From books and eBooks to magazines and movies, from summer reading programs, free Wi-Fi, a copy machines and talking book applications for blind and physically handicapped, the facility offers so much for so many. The list goes on and on. On top of all they serve, the library also serves Neponset Grade School as its full-time library as well.

“Service to the community has always been the focus of the library,” Faber said. “While this aspect has never changes, libraries have grown and evolved in how they provide for the needs of every member of their community.”

Why should patrons utilize their local library?

Faber believes libraries are trusted places where community members gather to reconnect and re-engage.

“Librarians work with elected officials, small business owners, students and the public at large to discover what their communities needs are and meet them,” she explained.

Whether it’s through offering eBooks and technology classes, materials for English language learners, programs for job-seekers or those to support early literacy — librarians are always ready to listen to the communities they serve.

“We are the heart of the community. There is not a whole lot to so in rural communities, like Neponset, so patrons visit us for their needs and use our available services like the Internet, copy machine, programs and more,” Faber said.

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