Today began National Library Week in the U.S. This year's theme is "Welcome to Your Library." Given the COVID-19 pandemic, budget cuts, furloughed staff, closed physical spaces, a move to online programming, more of a reliance on digital resources, and the impact of racism on us all, "welcome" can be a hard word to say.
The Welcome Mat is Out
Right now we are welcoming people to come into our physical spaces and asking them to do so in a way that protects their health and the health of library staff. We're asking community members to engage with us in different ways than before, again in an effort to keep people safe from COVID. We're finding ourselves doing more cleaning - or asking patrons to sanitize spaces - and worrying about airflow. We're reassigning staff to help with COVID testing, contract tracing, and COVID vaccinations, where we hope they can be a helpful and a welcoming community presence. We are busy!
Looking to the Future
The pandemic and its effect are not over. Racism has impacted all of communities and it having us re-evaluate our collections now, thanks to Dr. Seuss. And we're advocating for an improvement in our budget shortfalls caused by the rippling effect of COVID on our communities. There is much for us to do to ensure that we are seen as welcoming in the future. Maybe the events of this week will help to fuel us for what us ahead.
ALA National Library Week Events
- Monday (April 5): Today ALA released its 2021 State of America’s Libraries Special Report: COVID-19, which includes the highly anticipated Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2020.
- Tuesday is Library Workers Day.
- Wednesday is National Library Outreach Day (formerly known as National Bookmobile Day).
- Thursday is Take Action for Libraries Day. Yes, advocacy! Thursday is also a free and open event with Dan Rather via Zoom for a live conversation at 6:30 p.m. Central Time. Rather will discuss the important role of libraries and his book, “What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism.” The event is free and open to all, but registration is required. Sign up on the ALA website.
Happy National Library Week!