When It Comes to Libraries, There’s More to the Story
Much is being said about libraries of all kinds lately. We receive a lot of positive feedback and support from library users, and occasionally some valid criticisms. Both are appreciated and helpful. From the fringe of those who don’t support libraries (bless their hearts), though, library staff have been met with alarming accusations, intimidation, efforts to defund or cut library operations, and even the threat of prosecution.
It’s not hard to see where the lines are drawn. In a 2017 Pew study that’s often cited in library land, most people said they trust and support their libraries and believe their libraries are valuable assets to their communities. Among the generation who are some of the biggest library users in the US, Millennials, it was 87%. This makes it clear that most library users are library supporters.
The advantage library supporters have over detractors is that their position on the matter of libraries is informed by personal experience. Library supporters know what libraries are really about, and what happens inside library buildings. Library supporters know who library workers really are, and what they really do. And because they actually use the library, library supporters know – there’s more to the story.
That’s why this year’s theme for National Library Week, “There’s More to the Story,” is so relevant. April 23 through 29, as libraries across the country have done since 1958, the Central Arkansas Library System will share the story of libraries as defenders of our right as Americans to read, of the good work that libraries do, and of the positive difference that library workers and supporters are making in their communities.
Our ideals as library workers and views on the right to read are opposites of the vocal minority who speak against libraries, but we believe in the First Amendment, which also protects their right to express opposing views. However, we value truth in dissenting opinions. We value access to information and a thirst for knowledge. When it comes to the story of libraries, you might say we’re a primary source for one of the last public institutions American people still support and trust.
Each day of National Library Week is dedicated to telling a different piece of the library’s story.
Monday, we celebrate intellectual freedom to mark Right to Read Day. We’ll be sharing accurate and interesting information about book bans, how our policies direct the development of the library’s collection, and how members of our community can share their concerns when they find library materials triggering.
Tuesday is National Library Workers Day, and we’ll honor and recognize the valuable contributions made by library workers of all kinds.
Wednesday will be a day for celebrating the many kinds of library outreach and the dedicated professionals who are meeting patrons’ needs where they are.
We’ll rally advocates to support libraries and the vital role they play on Thursday for Take Action for Libraries Day.
On Friday, we’ll tie all the pieces together and focus on the facts to bust some recent library myths and give you the rest of the story.
To bring National Library Week to a close, we’ll spend Saturday having fun and saying thank you to hundreds of thousands of amazing patrons and others we serve in Central Arkansas. They show up for the library and make it possible for the library to show up for them.
We hope you’ll join us for National Library Week by visiting your favorite CALS location or one you’ve never been to before, or by sharing your own stories with us on social media. Those very noisy few seem to have a lot to say about libraries these days. But by combining our voices, the library and its supporters can make sure everyone knows there’s more to the story.