“A good library will never be too neat, or too dusty, because somebody will always be in it, taking books off the shelves and staying up late reading them.” Lemony Snicket
February is not lacking for days to celebrate. We have Groundhog Day, Fat Tuesday, Valentine’s Day, Random Act of Kindness Day, and Presidents’ Day. We also have the entire month to celebrate books and reading and all that our libraries offer, because February is Library Lovers Month.
I love libraries. As a young girl growing up in Butte, Montana, some of my fondest memories are of walking uptown with my sister, Laurie, and our best friends—sisters, too—to our public library. The quietness demanded by the librarians created a sense of reverence among the four of us.
Today, libraries aren’t always quiet. We no longer have to whisper about books, we can talk about them. Out loud. There are programs for book lovers of all ages, beginning with Tiny Tales for the youngest among us at the Missoula Public Library.
So it’s sad that we have to worry about library funding in our cities and in our schools. But we do. My high school library media assistant position is funded only through the end of this school year. I hope that will change.
I recently received an email listing the following talking points about libraries:
- 84% of Americans 16 or older have been to a library or bookmobile. In the last year, 59% of Americans used library services.
- Throughout the economic downturn, patrons have increasingly turned to the local library for information on a wide range of subjects, including job searching.
- In one year, 30 million Americans used library connections to search and apply for jobs.
- Over 92% of libraries provide access to job databases and online job applications.
- Although in the last 10 years the number of computer workstations has doubled, 87% of urban libraries do not have enough computers to meet the daily demand.
- Libraries provide an important link between the government and the public. When people need to research court cases, look up a fact from an Environmental Protection Agency study or file their taxes they come to the library to do it.
- Studies show that a child’s brain develops the most between birth and age three. Many of the 16,604 public libraries in the United States support parents and caregivers with early childhood literacy programs that train care givers in how to read to children, encourage parents in engaging in their children’s literacy development and are designed to help young children learn to read.
- Support funding for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). LSTA funding helps libraries meet community needs, better utilize technology to provide enhanced services, reach underserved populations, and much more.
- Research repeatedly shows that an effective school library program is an integral component of a student’s successful education. Across the United States, studies have demonstrated that students in schools with effective library programs learn more, get better grades, and score higher on assessments than their peers in schools without such resources.
- Even though school libraries are where students develop skills they will need for the 21st century, only 60 percent of public schools have a state-certified school librarian.
Libraries. We love them. We need them. John Alfred Landford once said, “No possession can surpass, or even equal a good library, to the lover of books. Here are treasured up for his daily use and delectation, riches which increase by being consumed, and pleasures that never cloy.”
He also said, “No matter what his rank or position may be, the lover of books is the richest and the happiest of the children of men.”
Happy Library Lovers’ Month. Visit your local library. Borrow a book. Read. Repeat.