Friday April 6, 2018

60 years of National Library Week: ‘Libraries Lead’

By Maureen Schlangen

In 1958, long before folic acid, salt, nurses, agriculture, food allergies, robotics and handwashing had their own awareness weeks, the American Library Association launched National Library Week, a campaign to keep Americans reading in what ALA publicity chair Willis Kerr in 1922* called “the fight against ignorance, indifference, illiteracy and inefficiency.”

The fight continues … with libraries still on the front line. 

With the theme “Wake Up and Read,” the first National Library Week featured a patriotic poster with a bald eagle clutching arrows in one talon and an olive branch in the other. The tagline: “For a better-read better-informed America.” Goals ranged from “encouraging people to read in their increasing leisure time” to “improving incomes and health” and “developing strong and happy family life.”

This year’s 60th-anniversary celebration, “Libraries Lead” (April 8-14), highlights the leadership of libraries and library workers in their communities and the role of libraries in helping patrons develop leadership skills. Its honorary chair is Misty Copeland, principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre and author of New York Times bestsellers Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina (2014) and Ballerina Body (2017). Her 2014 picture book Firebird won the Coretta Scott King Book Illustrator Award in 2015.

CELEBRATIONS ACROSS THE NATION
ON CAMPUS: FOOD FOR FINES, POETRY PRIZES ... PRESENTS

On campus, the University Libraries are celebrating National Library Week concurrently with UD Pride Week and National Poetry Month. Some highlights:

* Citation: Kerr, Willis H. “National Library Week: The Publicity Committee’s Proposal.” Bulletin of the American Library Association, Volume 16. Chicago: American Library Association, 1922. Cited in Landgraf, Greg. “‘Wake Up and Read’ to ‘Libraries Lead’: The 60-year history of National Library Week.” American Libraries, March/April 2018.

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