National Library Week, April 19-25, 2020, celebrates libraries’ resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic

For Immediate Release
Wed, 04/15/2020

Contact:

Macey Morales

Deputy Director

Communications and Marketing Office

American Library Association

mmorales@ala.org

CHICAGO – The novel Coronavirus crisis has dramatically and quickly changed American life.   Most libraries have closed their physical buildings on the recommendation of public health officials and the American Library Association (ALA), but remain open for business online and continue to support their communities with resources, services and programs.

As the impact of the current public health crisis continues to evolve and change the work of libraries and library workers, libraries are proving resourceful and resilient, serving as a rich pipeline for content, delivering access to ebooks, movies, music, video games, virtual storytimes and activities, and so much more.

Just as libraries are pivoting in response to the current situation, the ALA is changing the focus of its annual National Library Week celebration, which will be held April 19-25, 2020.

The theme for National Library Week (NLW) 2020, “Find your place at the library,” was chosen before the emergence of the global pandemic. To acknowledge our altered landscape, ALA flipped the script a bit on the theme. “Find the library at your place” highlights how libraries are offering virtual services and digital content their communities need now more than ever.

A survey conducted by the Public Library Association, a division of ALA, confirmed that public libraries, while closed to the public, have continued to expand access to digital resources, launch virtual programs, and coordinate services with local government agencies.

The survey found that libraries are rapidly adapting services. A substantial majority of respondents report they have extended online renewal policies (76%), expanded online services like ebooks and streaming media (74%) and added virtual programming (61%). Some specific example include:

The El Dorado County Library (California), using its 3D print lab and working with a local community foundation, has delivered 700 face shields for use in local regional hospitals and county facilities and plans to print 15,000.

The Rochester Public Library (Minnesota) has worked with city partners to open a day shelter for those experiencing homeless at the city-owned Mayo Civic Center. County call lines are being routed to library staff for initial intake and referral.

The McArthur Library in Biddeford, Maine, has adapted in-person programs for online delivery, such as virtual story times and an online knitting group.

The Central Rappahannock Regional Library (Virginia), even while closed, has issued 418 virtual library cards, emailing barcode numbers so patrons can access an ever-expanding collection of ebooks and audiobooks.

Academic libraries such as the one at the University of Utah have been 3D-printing face shields and even have transitioned into N95 mask production.

School libraries like the one at Live Oak Middle School in Louisiana are making sure students remain educationally enriched. Librarian Amanda Jones is taking children on virtual field trips to places like Amsterdam.

National Library Week will include the following activities:

On Monday, April 20, the ALA will release its “State of America’s Libraries Report.” The annual report provides trend information for all types of libraries and will include the highly anticipated “Top Ten List of the Most Challenged Books of 2019.”

Tuesday, April 21, is National Library Workers Day. Libraries and communities will recognize librarians, support staff and others who make library service possible every day. Library users are invited to “Submit a Star” by providing a testimonial about a favorite library employee at ala-apa.org/nlwd/#galaxy. Each testimonial will be posted in the “Galaxy of Stars” on the NLWD website to honor deserving library workers.

Wednesday, April 22, is National Bookmobile Day, which recognizes the role of bookmobiles and direct‐delivery outreach services. For more than a century, library bookmobiles have provided access to information and technology by taking resources directly to communities.

Thursday, April 23, is Take Action for Libraries Day, a national library advocacy effort to highlight the library community’s work in safeguarding funding for the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), which serves as a critical funding resource for every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. territories to support libraries and museums.

April is School Library Month, which is sponsored by the American Association of School Librarians, a division of the ALA.

Maia and Alex Shibutani, a.k.a. the ShibSibs, two-time Olympic bronze medalists, three-time world medalists, Four Continents Figure Skating Champions, and two-time U.S. National Champions, are the Honorary Chairs of National Library Week.

First celebrated in 1958, National Library Week is observed each April by ALA and libraries across the country.  For more information on National Library Week, please visit ILoveLibraries.org/NLW or follow #NationalLibraryWeek. National Library Week artwork is available for download at http://www.ala.org/news/mediapresscenter/presskits/nlw

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