National Library Week History

First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week, is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation's libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support.  All types of libraries - school, public, academic and special - participate.

National Library Week Honorary Chairs | National Library Week Themes

In the mid-1950s, research showed that Americans were spending less on books and more on radios, televisions and musical instruments. Concerned that Americans were reading less, the ALA and the American Book Publishers formed a nonprofit citizens organization called the National Book Committee in 1954. The committee's goals were ambitious.  They ranged from "encouraging people to read in their increasing leisure time" to "improving incomes and health" and "developing strong and happy family life." 

In 1957, the committee developed a plan for National Library Week based on the idea that once people were motivated to read, they would support and use libraries. With the cooperation of ALA and with help from the Advertising Council, the first National Library Week was observed in 1958 with the theme "Wake Up and Read!"

National Library Week was observed again in 1959, and the ALA Council voted to continue the annual celebration. When the National Book Committee disbanded in 1974, ALA assumed full sponsorship.

The ALA Archives Blog published an illustrated history of the event on April 10, 2015, by Lydia Tang, National Library Week: “For a Better-Read, Better-Informed America”.

Hashtag:  #NationalLibraryWeek

To download free National Library Week  tools and resources visit

Wake up and Read. National Library Week, April 12, 1959. For a better-read and better-informed America. Simple illustration of a face, one side is purple and has closed eye, the other has text and an open eye.

National Library Week Themes

1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s | 2010s


1958 Wake up and read
1959 Wake up and read


1960 Open wonderful new worlds...wake up and read
1961 For a richer, fuller life, read
1962 Read and watch your world grow
1963 Read -- the fifth freedom, enjoy it
1964 Reading is the key
1965 Open your mind -- read; Know what you're talking about -- read
1966 Read -- keep growing; Know what you are talking about -- read
1967 Explore inner space; Reading is what's happening
1968 Be all you can be -- read
1969 Be all you can be -- read


1970 Reading is for everybody
1971 You've got a right to read
1972 Reading makes the world go round; Books bring people together
1973 Get ahead -- read; Widen your world
1974 Grow with books; Get it all together
1975 Information Power
1976 Information Power at the Library? At the Library
1977 Use your library
1978 Info to the Library
1979 The Library is Filled with Success Stories


1980 America's greatest bargain...the library
1981 America, the library has your number
1982 A word to the wise, library
1983 Go for it! Use your library
1984 Knowledge is RealPower
1985 A Nation of Readers
1986 Get a head start at The Library
1987 Take time to read...use your library
1988 The Card With a Charge...Use your Library
1989 Ask a Professional. Ask a Librarian.


1990 Reach for a Star. Ask a Librarian.
1991 Read. Succeed.; Kids Who Read Succeed.
1992 Your Right to Know: Librarians Make it Happen
1993 Libraries Change Lives
1994 Libraries Change Lives
1995 Libraries Change Lives
1996 Libraries Change Lives
1997 Kids Connect @ the Library
1998 Kids Connect @ the Library: Connect @ the Library
1999 Read! Learn! Connect! @ the Library!


2000 Read! Learn! Connect! @ the Library!
2001 @ your library™
2002 @ your library™
2003 @ your library™
2004 @ your library™
2005 Something for everyone @ your library®
2006 Change your world @ your library®
2007 Come together @ your library®
2008 Join the circle of knowledge @ your library®
2009 Worlds connect @ your library®


2010 Communities thrive @ your library®
2011 Create your own story @ your library®
2012 You belong @ your library®
2013 Communities Matter @ your library®
2014 Lives change @ your library®
2015 Unlimited possibilities @ your library®
2016 Libraries Transform
2017 Libraries Transform
2018 Libraries Lead
2019 Libraries = Strong Communities
2020 Find your place at the library | Find the library at your place (pivot due to pandemic)
2021 Welcome to Your Library
2022 Connect with Your Library
2023 There's More to the Story

Many of these themes have been captured in philatelic cachets and meter stamps.

National Library Week Honorary Chairpersons

2023 Kelly Yang
2022 Molly Shannon
2021 Natalie Portman
2020 Maia and Alex Shibutani
2019 Melinda Gates
2018 Misty Copeland
2017 Julie Foudy
2016 Gene Luen Yang
2015 David Baldacci
2014 Judy Blume
2013 Caroline Kennedy
2012 Brad Meltzer
2011 John Grisham
2010 Neil Gaiman
2009 Jamie Lee Curtis
2008 Julie Andrews

Last updated: 1/2023