By Chauncey Montgomery
Director, Community Public Library in Sunbury
Often times around the Christmas holiday, I’ll hear people complain about all the hype surrounding this one day of the year and ask why we do not exhibit the Christmas spirit every day. I must say that sentiment is somewhat how I approach National Library Week.
National Library Week began in the late 1950s. Sponsored by the American Library Association, it is a national observance that celebrates the contributions of the nation’s libraries and librarians and promotes library use.
Celebrating the contributions of libraries and librarians and promoting library use is something librarians should be doing daily as we work with patrons and interact with our communities. I am not sure why we need to set aside a week to draw special awareness to what we do.
But before I am called a “Scrooge” in the library community, I will say that I am very tolerant of folk that do honor National Library Week and applaud their efforts. To that end, here are some possible ideas you may want to
consider if you choose to celebrate National Library Week.
1. Recognizing staff.
We all know that our libraries are only as good as the people working in them. Why not do something to draw attention to staff. Perhaps you could feature different library personnel each day of the week. Describe their positions and how they contribute to the success of local library services. Staff could be recognized at the library but also through the library’s Web site or Facebook page. Not only does this give staff the recognition they deserve, but it also helps build the relationship between staff and the community as patrons get to know more about the people working at the library.
2. Ask the community what they think.
Libraries will only remain pertinent to our users if we are focused on their needs. To that end, National Library Week would be a great time to solicit informal feedback from your users. As you highlight all the great things
you do, you could then ask for comments and provide a venue for users to give their opinion. A simple poster board at the library where users could jot down comments would suffice. If your library has a blog or Facebook page, invite comments on what users like or on what things the library could improve.
3. Have an open house or after hours event.
Hosting an open house is a great way to strengthen relationships in the community. Often times when we work with users, it is in a strict librarian/patron relationship. However, in the context of an open house, often times those roles are relaxed and we have an opportunity to interact with users as neighbors and friends. Such a situation helps us get to know our users better, and likewise, they get to know us as more than the local librarian. Getting a more complete picture of our users will only improve the services we provide to them.
A way to show communities that they are important to the library is by visiting different groups and doing a presentation. Perhaps you can do a special storytime for a daycare, school, or assisted living facility. Visiting civic organization meetings to discuss what is happening at the library is another way to get out into the community. Visiting local businesses just to introduce the library is a great way to get a sense of small business needs in the area.
I know none of these ideas are earthshattering,
but hopefully they provide a way to bring awareness to the
great things libraries and librarians do every day. I also hope they prove that I am not completely a Scrooge
when it comes to National Library Week. For some more ideas, look at OLC Small Libraries Division blog post
from 2010, “National Library Week Programming Ideas” at