Libraries are doorways to new worlds, allowing people access to information and literature. When someone visits a library, she has all the knowledge of the world at her disposal. This is why the United States recognizes the importance of libraries each year. National Library Week is the celebration of the contributions libraries and librarians have made to American society. School, public, academic, and special libraries participate in the annual celebration.
The celebration was established in 1958 and is observed each April. It promotes the use and support of all libraries. During the week-long event, Tuesday is set aside for National Library Workers Day. This special day celebrates the work of librarians, library staff, administrators, and Friends of the Library groups.
During the mid-1950s, it was discovered that Americans were spending more money on radios, televisions, and musical instruments instead of using their hard-earned money for books. In response to this dilemma, the American Library Association (ALA) partnered with American Book Publishers to create a nonprofit organization called the National Book Committee in the year 1954. The committee was designed to encourage American citizens to read during their free time and ultimately hoped to improve the overall health and income of the American family.
In 1957, the National Book Committee created a plan for National Library Week. The goal was simple — encourage people to read so they increase library use and support the library in its efforts to educate the public. By 1958, the committee introduced the slogan "Wake Up and Read!" National Library Week was celebrated for the first time that year.
The celebration was observed a second time in the year 1959. Soon, ALA voted to continue the celebration on an annual basis. When the National Book Committee dissolved in 1974, the ALA began to oversee National Library Week.
Today, the ALA provides bookmarks and posters promoting the event through their online store. Libraries throughout the U.S. sponsor a variety of activities in order to bring attention to the annual celebration. Sample activities may include storytimes, author appearances, book fairs, book-making events, and other programs that celebrate libraries.
Libraries stimulate the mind, encourage people to read, teach young children that books are exciting, and provide an endless source of information. Libraries can be found in almost every American city and provide programs and services that enrich the community. National Library Week celebrates the contributions of such libraries by encouraging people to take time to acknowledge the benefits of supporting the local library.