For immediate release | January 25, 2019

Philanthropist, author Melinda Gates to serve as 2019 National Library Week honorary chair

CHICAGO – Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has dedicated her life to achieving transformational improvements in the health and prosperity of families, communities and societies. Now she will lend her support to advocate for our nation’s libraries as honorary chair of National Library Week, April 7 – 13, 2019. Over the last 20 years, Gates has invested more than $1 billion through her foundation’s Global Libraries initiative to enhance the power of libraries to improve lives.

“We couldn’t imagine a more ideal person to serve as National Library Week honorary chair,” stated American Library Association President (ALA) Loida Garcia-Febo. “Melinda Gates has been a partner and catalyst for focusing global attention on the essential roles of libraries in providing equitable access to information and learning in the digital age for more than two decades. Her efforts to lift up underserved communities and empower individuals to make a difference in the world mirror the spirit of librarians and library workers, who work to help patrons reach the peak of their potentials.”

“Libraries = Strong Communities” is the theme for this year’s celebration of National Library Week, reminding the public that libraries of all types serve as change agents that strengthen communities by supporting community engagement and providing services that connect closely with patrons’ needs.

“In addition to providing communities with access to ideas and information, libraries play an important role in our public life by encouraging creativity, promoting equality, and serving as a source of empowerment,” Gates said. “This week, and every week, library workers deserve our support and our gratitude.”

Gates spent the first decade of her career developing multimedia products at Microsoft before leaving the company to focus on her family and philanthropic work. Now, as co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, she sets the direction and priorities of the world’s largest philanthropy. She is also the founder of Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company working to drive social progress for women and families in the United States.

On April 23, Gates will debut “The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World,” a timely and necessary call to action for women’s empowerment. The candid and inspiring book traces Gates’ awakening to the link between women’s empowerment and the health of societies. It introduces us to Gates’ heroes in the movement toward equality, offers startling data and shares some of the moving conversations she’s had with women all over the world. Gates details the tremendous opportunities that exist right now to “turbo-charge” change, and she provides simple and effective methods that each of us can use to make a difference.

First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is an annual observance by the American Library Association and libraries across the country each April. National Library Week celebrations include the release of the ALA’s 2019 “State of America’s Libraries Report,” April 8; National Library Workers Day, April 9; National Bookmobile Day, April 10; Take Action for Libraries Day, April 11; and the celebration of School Library Month throughout April.

For more information about National Library Week, please visit


Macey Morales

Deputy Director

American Library Association

Communications and Marketing Office

(312) 280-4393