CHICAGO - You type your search term into a search engine. You get 300,000 responses…now what? Ask a librarian! Libraries don’t just offer the hardware, but also offer the expertise of librarians in helping teach people how to use the Internet and find the information they need quickly. Celebrate this and other contributions made by all library workers – including librarians and support staff on the 8th annual National Library Workers Day, April 12, 2011.
Each year, thousands of communities celebrate National Library Workers Day, a time when library staff, patrons, administrators and Friends groups recognize how library services depend on the important work done by every library staff member. Celebration ideas are on the NLWD website; many are also taking the opportunity to submit library staff as Stars, describing the impact they have on their colleagues, patrons and communities.
The American Library Association-Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA), an organization that manages certification programs for library employees and advocates for better salaries and status for the library workforce, is the sponsor of National Library Workers Day. The day’s theme, "Libraries Work Because We Do!"
“In today’s information rich environment, librarians and library workers are more important than ever,” said Jenifer Grady, director of the ALA-APA. “With billions of visits and check-outs each year, libraries have become thriving technology hubs that millions rely on as their first or only choice for Internet access, particularly now during the current economic downturn.”
At a time when many Americans are facing job losses, working to gain new skills and seeking assistance in an increasingly digital world, U.S. public library workers are first responders in a time of economic uncertainty. Libraries bring together free access to computers and the Internet, a range of Internet-based resources and expert assistance to help people succeed and thrive online. In fact, 89 percent of libraries offer formal or informal technology assistance to library users, and 24% offer one-on-one technology training by appointment.
For example, the Chicago Public Library offers technology training workshops on basic computer skills, how to search the Web, how to download media; basic mouse and keyboarding skills and resume building and job searching.
According to the 2010 ALA-APA Salary Survey, library workers’ salaries are improving, reporting average increases ranging from 2 percent for managers of support staff to 13 percent for directors of public and academic libraries, but they still fall short of those in comparable professions. Strides have also been made through legislation, most recently with ALA and others succeeding in the push to include public librarians in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. However in these tough times there is a need for special emphasis on the pay equity for library workers, who also face job losses and furloughs.
This year, National Library Workers day coincides with Equal Pay Day, an awareness event to illustrate the gap between men’s and women’s wages. On this day, while library workers and libraries are being commended for their value to their communities, women in all professions will be strategizing about closing the wage gap. Data from the U.S. Census and a survey of beginning librarians show that female librarian salaries continue to be lower than male library employees. The wage gap for the nation remains with women earning 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. Library employees continue to receive lower salaries in comparison with traditionally male occupations with comparable education requirements and job responsibilities, according to the 2009-2010 Association of Research Libraries Salary Survey and the U.S. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Supporters are encouraged to wear red on Tuesday, April 13.
For more information about National Library Workers Day, please contact the Macey Morales, Manager ALA Media Relations, (312) 280-4393, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Jennifer Petersen, ALA PR coordinator, (312) 280-5043, email@example.com, or visit the National Library Worker’s Day Web site at http://ala-apa.org/nlwd/.