April 23-29 is National Library Week – a time set apart to celebrate and promote everything libraries mean to our communities. Here are some of the reasons our staff at the Utah State Library think that libraries are worth celebrating.
“I grew up in Murray, and when I was a kid, I used to ride my bike to the old library on Vine Street every week or so. This is where my love of libraries began. It was a Carnegie Library, just up the road from State Street. The children’s section was on the top floor, up a long flight of stairs, and I could smell that good papery book scent as I headed up the stairs. I remember being so excited to look at the new books on display! I would spend a couple of hours there, reading all kinds of things. The librarian was kind, and she would often let me check out more than the limit, since I visited so often. Such good memories.”Lisa Nelson, director, Utah State Library for the Blind
“I am certain the world is a better place because I came to work today. How can you not love working in a job that makes you feel like that?”Paula Stuart, readers advisor, Utah State Library for the Blind
“I love libraries because they are filled with countless new worlds to explore. I also love the librarian who was from my hometown. She would take the time and take me around the library to help me find the perfect book. I would be sent home with dozens of new books.”Hannah Jones, Book Buzz coordinator/resource acquisitions technician
“I have been a supporter of bookmobile services since my children were small. It was a convenient way to introduce my children to libraries. Our local bookmobile brought story time to our rural area, along with the other amazing resources. My non-reader son discovered “Time” magazine on the bookmobile, and he now has a PhD in chemical engineering. I firmly believe his exposure to the bookmobile made a significant difference in his life.”Patricia Tompkins, Iron County Bookmobile
“Our library gives people access to books that they wouldn’t have without it. Going blind, especially later in life, can be a real challenge, and to those who were avid readers before their sight loss it’s something that we give back to them that they initially thought would be gone forever. As a lifelong patron of the library, I have used it as a student to get access to the books we read in language arts class, and it got me through many days during the summer when I wasn’t able to spend as much time with my friends. Now as both a patron and a member of the staff, I feel I am able to give back to an organization that, because it had always been there for me, I probably took for granted much more than I should have. Hearing the gratitude of our newly blind patrons makes me realize how good I’ve had it without even realizing it.”Michael Harris, readers advisor, Utah State Library for the Blind
“My library growing up was in an old strip mall until we got a new building when I was 8. I remember both spaces fondly, but my favorite space in the new library was in the magazine section. There are big windows with comfy chairs and I would grab the latest “American Girl” magazine and read by the windows while my mom did her browsing. It was a little retreat for me! (And they also had an amazing DVD collection!)”Rachel Cook, grants coordinator
“I had a very special school librarian in elementary school. She transformed her tiny media center into another world including the all-seeing taxidermy owl perched on the cabinet. Her story times were epic, I was an especial fan of her delightfully macabre renditions of “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.” By fifth grade I had already read every book in that tiny little library. She took the time to asses my interest and request books from the junior high library. She always stopped me in the hall to ask about what I was reading. She cultivated a lifelong love of literature in me.”Faye Fischer, contracts/grants analyst
“I love the library because ever since I was a child, it has been a place of refuge and respite for me. I remember when I was little going to the library on hot summer days in South Florida just to get lost in a book while enjoying the air conditioning. To this day, the library is my favorite place to go when I just need to get out the house, when I have a question I need to research the answer to, or even when I just want a place to sit and read on a hot summer day that is air conditioned!”Cristina Reyes, rural services coordinator/tribal library consultant
“I recently read Nikki Giovanni’s gorgeous picture book “A Library” and it transported me back to my own childhood, where I wandered, carefree, through the children’s stacks in my public library. My father took me to the library when I was 7 years old, and there, he introduced me to ancient Egyptians and King Tut. He showed me the terracotta warriors buried with China’s Emperor Qin. As I sat next to him, my father pored through colorful art books of Monet and Van Gogh. We visited faraway lands like Florence and Provence. We explored the solar system and dinosaurs together. We learned about mollusks and ocean life. We studied husbandry and bird care. We became experts at gardening. As I grew older, I explored the aisles of books on my own. When it was time to leave, my father would come to the children or teen’s areas and whistle for me. The library became my sanctuary and it still is today. But most of all, the library is memories of my father, showing me the world.”Karen Liu – youth services coordinator
Author Neil Gaiman has a love for libraries that he often shares publicly. “It’s still National Library Week. You should be especially nice to a librarian today, or tomorrow. Sometime this week anyway. Probably the librarians would like tea. Or chocolates. Or a reliable source of funding.”
We hope that as library directors, school librarians, and library staff of all kinds, you get a little extra love this week. Thank you for all you do that in very real ways keep the world turning. You make a difference. Libraries change lives!