Each year thousands of libraries celebrate National Library Week, an event sponsored by the American Library Association, during the third week in April. This national celebration was created to highlight the value of libraries and the important, interesting and fun services they offer in their communities all year long.
First celebrated in 1958, National Library Week includes National Library Workers Day on Tuesday, April 16, and National Bookmobile Day on Wednesday, April 17.
This year the Bellingham Public Library and the Whatcom County Library System are again participating April 14 through April 20. The theme for 2013 is "Communities Matter @ Your Library." Often called the heart of the community, local libraries are deeply committed to the places where patrons live, work and study.
With that in mind, it is important to ask "How do libraries support communities in Whatcom County?"
The answer is simple! Libraries support our communities in more ways than you might think.
"Service to the community has always been the focus of the library," said Regan Robinson, public services manager the Whatcom County Library System. "Our mission is 'connecting information, ideas, and community.' While this has always been the case, our libraries have grown and evolved in how they provide for the needs of every member of their community."
The Bellingham Public Library and the Whatcom County Library System's combined 12 locations and county bookmobile serve the entire county with books in print, audio and electronic formats, resources for job seekers, computers and free wi-fi access, classes and story times that promote early learning for children, language learning and citizenship resources, programs that emphasize reading and community building for all age groups, space for library events and community meetings, outreach services to the homebound and adult care facilities, and knowledgeable staff to help put it all together. Both systems envision engaged communities where curiosity is cultivated, literacy flourishes and democratic ideals thrive.
And those services change in response to the growing needs of our communities. Just this year your libraries have added a county-wide digital magazine service called Zinio, with 100 popular titles that you can read on your computer or mobile device. But that's not all. Both library systems now offer a digital interactive language learning program called Mango Languages. Mango offers language learning courses in 42 languages and has a convenient mobile app so you can learn at home or on the go.
"Our communities show us every day how much they love their libraries," said Pamela Kiesner, director of the Bellingham Public Library. "People check out, download, access our websites, come to story times and so much more."
With all these available services it is easy to see why our libraries are so well used and so well loved. Both library systems have thousands of card holders that use their local libraries, check out books and use online resources regularly throughout the year.
So how can you show your love for the library during National Library Week?
Make plans to visit your Bellingham Public Library on Thursday, April 18, or your Whatcom County Library System community library on Saturday, April 20, for "Snapshot Day: One Day in the Life of Washington Libraries."
From Blaine to Bellingham, from Lummi Island to Kendall, each community will be joining libraries across Washington by taking pictures and collecting statistics and stories that show how (and how much) community members are utilizing their libraries every day.
"I invite library lovers to visit their library that day, in person or online," said Kiesner, 'Library Snapshot Day provides an opportunity to demonstrate the impact that libraries deliver in our communities."
See you at the library!
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Katie Bray is public services librarian for the Bellingham Public Library and Lizz Roberts is community relations coordinator for the Whatcom County Library System.