To kick off National Library Week yesterday, the American Library Association (ALA) released its State of America’s Libraries 2019 report, an annual summary of library trends that outlines statistics and issues affecting all types of libraries. Never have our nation’s libraries played such a pivotal role in strengthening communities through education and lifelong learning.
Libraries are a microcosm of the larger society. They play an important and unique role in the communities that they serve and provide an inclusive environment where all are treated with respect and dignity.
No longer just places for books, our public libraries serve as a lifeline for some of our nation’s most vulnerable communities. From community-wide issues as illiteracy, homelessness and community silos, our nation’s public libraries are acting as catalysts in fostering community-wide solutions that strengthen communities.
The report found that library workers are on the frontlines addressing community challenges. Many serve as first responders who take on roles outside of traditional library service that support patrons’ needs and community development. Functioning at various times as career counselor, social worker, teacher and technology instructor, library staff give special care to adopt programs and services that support our most vulnerable and curious.
Additional findings illustrate library workers’ efforts to safeguard library collections and the freedom to read. In 2018 hundreds of attempts to remove materials or eliminate programs took place in public, school and academic libraries. Many of these library materials and services included or addressed LGBTQIA+ content.
Other library trends are available in the full text of the 2019 State of America’s Libraries report.
First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is observed each April by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country. National Library Week celebrations include National Library Workers Day, April 9; National Bookmobile Day, April 10, and Take Action for Libraries Day, April 11.