Americans value their libraries, and they show that appreciation by using their libraries in large numbers and by supporting library funding. The library is seen, quite correctly, as both a benign and benevolent pillar of the community and is one of the very few places you can go and be provided with educational, recreational, and/or useful materials for free. You can walk out the door of a public library with hundreds of dollars worth of your tax money all because you have a library card!
In these challenging economic times, libraries are being used more than ever, and with less financial backing. Therefore, the same amount of library staff, almost all with fewer resources, are providing more services such as story hours, reference and outreach.
Today, Tuesday April 15, 2014, during National Library Week, schools, campuses and communities across the country will celebrate the second National Library Workers Day and the valuable contributions of our librarians and library support staff. Libraries are part of the American dream – places for opportunity, education, lifelong learning and free and equal access to a world of resources no matter your age, income or background -- but that dream would not exist if it were not for the people who work in libraries.
Library workers organize and maintain everything that is in the library. Materials need to be selected, ordered, processed, and then made available for users. From a book for research or leisure reading to a laptop that can be checked out to a display for Black History Month, dedicated human is responsible for its presence in the library. Library workers—catalogers, circulation clerks, reference librarians, evening supervisors, and student assistants, to name a few, provide access to the past while preserving the present.
They plan for the libraries of the future and Banned Book Week displays. They choose, order, catalog, label, and shelve all of the books, media, serials, and other materials. They lobby for funding and crusade against censorship. Library workers read stories to children and books to the blind. They suggest good reads, organize book clubs, and drive bookmobiles. They advise vampire slayers, fight crime, and throw fabulous parties (Think Buffy's Mr. Giles, Bat Girl, and Party Girl). In the local college or university they provide the educational support for students, faculty, and staff.
Those in public service, whether it's in a public, school, or university library, are skilled and knowledgeable researchers who know how just which tool to use for which information need, navigating through a variety of electronic and print resources: almanacs, bibliographies, catalogs, databases, dictionaries, gazetteers, encyclopedias, reviews, and yearbooks. And they know! More and more those who work in libraries need to know how to use technology. Sometimes locating just the right answer appears so simple that the users do not realize that it is isn't easy. Often times library workers are drawing on education and experience that make it look that way.
Library workers do all this and more, even though they are rarely thanked. Yet, working in the library is rewarding for most people because it involves giving a service that contributes to the overall quality of life in a community. It is positive work that should be recognized in a society that values knowledge, learning and opportunity.
Take a moment today to thank our library workers for the services they provide and to remind our campus officials that libraries and library workers provide vital services, programs and collections each and every day. The Charles W. & Joan S. Coker Library works because Brandy, Jared, Margaret, Nancy, Veronica, Todd, and Emily do!