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Libraries Missing from National Library Week

It’s National Library Week, which I’m naturally very excited about. Or at least I would be if the sort of library I work in was actually acknowledged in any way during the celebrations. Actually, I still probably wouldn’t be, but it’s the principle of the thing.

Here’s a brief history from the NLW fact sheet:

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. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support. All types of libraries – school, public, academic and special – participate.

If any academic or special libraries participate, the appropriate question is, good god why? They’re as invisible in the made up celebration as they are in ALA activities, American Libraries magazine, and anything else the ALA plasters its logo on.

The sample press release even drops the special libraries, unless you can consider them part of their “communities”: “Often the heart of their communities, campuses or schools, libraries are deeply committed to the places where their patrons live, work and study.”

Don’t bother clicking on the link to the main NLW page on the fact sheet, because at the time of writing it’s broken. However, on the main page we get the calendar of “events:

  • Monday, April 15 – 2013 State of America’s Libraries Report released
  • Tuesday, April 16 – National Library Workers Day
  • Wednesday, April 17 – National Bookmobile Day
  • Thursday, April 18 – Support Teen Literature Day

Presumably by Friday we’ll all be so exhausted from celebrating that there’s nothing planned.

There will be a little bit about academic libraries and nothing about special libraries in the State of America’s Libraries Report, but bookmobiles and teen literature are pretty public library.

It’s okay that the academic libraries are usually left out, because the librarians there don’t seem to need as much cheering up as some of the public librarians. The ones that really get left out are the special libraries. Maybe it’s because they all got together and formed their own association without paying any attention to the ALA. Regardless, the ALA could host a Special Library Olympics to highlight their activities.

Someone tried to do something like that for National Library Worker’s Day.  “NLWD is,” according to the site, “a day for library staff, users, administrators and Friends groups to recognize the valuable contributions made by all library workers.” With that in mind, you can Submit a Star!

That seems like a nice gesture for library workers who are rarely applauded and sometimes even derided by librarians desperate for some professional status. So by all means, submit some stars. Just try to come up with a better rationale than Karen did for the poor special library staff:

The Library Staff from a special library in All Over the U.S.A is a Star because they all work together as a team and embody the true spirit of “one firm” even though they are spread all across the United States – Karen

At first I thought there might be a corporation called “All Over the U.S.A.” It’s capitalized, after all, which is normally something we reserve for proper nouns unless we’re from the 18th century. But no, it’s just random praise of library workers in special libraries all over the country who mostly have no contact with each other and don’t really work together as a team.

I find that sad. Surely there’s a special library worker someone could submit and say something specific about. Give it a try.

Meanwhile, I’m going to look forward to National Bookmobile Day, which always provides an excuse for librarians to load up the wetbar in our dayglow painted bookmobile and cruise around town showering the masses with paperbacks. I just wish they’d make the NBD on Thursday instead of Friday. Nothing’s planned for Friday, and I’ll need the rest.



  1. I didn’t care that my library wasn’t really meant for the week; I went ahead and did it anyway with a week full of fun events. However, a funny story about public libraries not really getting into gear is this – a foreign exchange student already in the U.S. for the last four years, visiting public libraries regularly, said this was the first year she had heard about National Library Week. From me.

  2. I’m an innovator, and started the 1st ever NLW celebration at my special library! Now into year two,we have another successful event. It takes creativity to pull one of these off, to make it successful. You should encourage people to try it. They like us here, a lot!

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