Libraries of all kinds celebrate the 50th anniversary of National Library Week, as library use and popularity continue to grow

Contacts: Macey Morales/Jennifer Petersen
ALA Media Relations
(312) 280-4393/5043
For Immediate Release,
April 15, 2008

Libraries of all kinds celebrate the 50th anniversary of National Library Week, as library use and popularity continue to grow<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />CHICAGO—Libraries of all kinds continue to play an expanding role in American communities, serving the needs of all patrons and reaching out to those in underserved communities.

National Library Week, which will be held April 13-19, will commemorate its 50th anniversary with the theme “Join the circle of knowledge @ your library®.” The celebration is sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) with events held at thousands of libraries throughout the country.

This year’s honorary chair is the beloved entertainer Julie Andrews, known for her roles in such classic movies as “The Sound of Music” and “Mary Poppins” and as the author of such books as Thanks to You—Wisdom from Mother and Child.

In a public service announcement for National Library Week that can be downloaded from, Andrews says that libraries have been for her places of peace, quiet and joy.

“Libraries can bring the world to you in ways you have never dreamed of,” says Andrews. “You can find anything you want at a library. You can research a project, you can get help with your homework, and you can get on the Internet. You can find out about all the joys of this wonderful world at your local library.”

Americans continue to check out more than 2 billion items each year from their public libraries, and more and more people make use of libraries’ education and social resources. The average user takes out seven-plus books a year, but patrons also go to their libraries to borrow

DVDs, learn new computer skills, conduct job searches and participate in the activities of local and community organizations. The average bill to the taxpayer for this remarkable range of public services is $31 per year, about the cost of one hardcover book.

Other trends include:

  • Libraries in smaller communities (fewer than 100,000 residents) are serving a larger portion of non-English speakers than big-city libraries.
  • Studies in 19 states have shown that a strong school library media program helps students learn more and score higher on standardized tests than peers in schools without such programs.
  • Computer and online games have become part of the mix at many public libraries, and some use gaming to attract new patrons.
  • Growing patron enthusiasm for the computer and Internet services have stretched public libraries’ existing Internet bandwidth, computer availability and building infrastructure to capacity. Budgets have not kept up with demand.
  • Teens are one of the public library’s most enthusiastic users of services.

The week’s festivities will include National Library Workers Day, which is celebrated each Tuesday of National Library Week. This year it will be held on April 15 and will provide an opportunity for library staff, users, administrators and Friends groups to recognize the valuable contributions made by all library workers.

In addition to National Library Week, many school libraries also celebrate the month of April as School Library Media Month, sponsored by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), a division of the ALA.

Gaming @ your library (April 18) will highlight the enthusiasm for gaming that library patrons all over the country are expressing. Finally, services to youth will also be celebrated by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) during Support Teen Literature Day on April 17.

ALA also will release its annual State of America’s Libraries report on Monday, April 14. To read the report, visit:

Launched in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the ALA and libraries across the country 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.

For more information on National Library Week, go to the ALA’s Web site: