We are halfway through this year’s National Library week, and celebrations continue to take place in and about libraries across the country. National Library Week is an annual celebration highlighting the role libraries, librarians, and library workers play in transforming lives and communities. These free, public spaces offer a wealth of knowledge and public space where communities can come together to learn and connect. First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April.
This year’s theme is “Libraries=Strong Communities.” Melinda Gates, philanthropist and wife of tech billionaire is the honorary chair of National Library Week, possibly due to the donations by the Gates’ Global Libraries initiative donations over the last 20 years which have totaled over $1 billion.
Some fun facts about libraries:
- There are more public libraries than Starbucks in the U.S. – a total of 16,568, including branches. Nearly 100% of public libraries provide Wi-Fi and have no-fee access to computers.
- The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with more than 167 million items on approximately 838 miles of bookshelves, which would span roughly the distance from The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., to Cape Canaveral, Florida.
- Librarians have long championed their community members’ right to access information privately, and serve as an essential refuge where everyone can check out materials or browse the internet without their information being shared.
- There were 113 million attendees at public library programs in 2016, more than all Major League Baseball, National Football League, and National Basketball Association games combined. That’s 16.5 million more than in 2013.
- Students in high-povertyschools are almost twice as likely to graduate when the school library is staffed with a certified school librarian.
To celebrate National Library Week, visit your library this week!