Our Quiet Mentors

The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.
⁓ Albert Einstein

I am of an age when libraries had once been the only extensive source of knowledge. I would find myself staying after the school bell rang, quickly poring over a volume from an encyclopedia for an assignment the next day. More often than not, I would take another book home for my own enjoyment. Flash forward a few years and I find myself with my classmates — discussing the plans for our group project amidst several open references, speaking in excited murmurs as our ideas played off each other. Add a few more, I wake up from a short nap within a study cubicle in the middle of cramming for a major exam. The library was a significant factor during my formative years.

It is no wonder then that being within physical libraries — with their scent of polished wood and printed paper, the different textures of book spines, and the hushed hum of human activity — feels like coming home. Even with the buffet of information available at my fingertips nowadays, nothing compares to the participative experience of turning the pages of a book in the company of other readers, together in a place dedicated to the pursuit and sharing of knowledge. It is a quiet, contemplative, shared sense of community.

 

Keepers Of The Keys

Far from the stereotypical strict librarian commonly portrayed in popular media, the librarians I have known were pleasantly helpful. They had an air of kindly patience about them as they answered my questions and guided me in my search for that one book.

 

National Librarian Day every April 16th celebrates these custodians of knowledge. Their role as trained professionals who manage various collections and provide numerous services makes the inner workings of a library run smoothly and efficiently. They are our teachers as well, as we continue to learn beyond the confines of a classroom's walls. It is this dedication to their craft that inspired the American Library Association or ALA to commemorate their efforts annually from 2004 since this special day’s inception in 1958. The librarians of today now wield both art and science as their skills enable them to become pioneers, associates, proponents, and convergent thinkers who deepen our knowledge.

 

Repositories That Endure

In these rapidly changing times and easier access to information, how do libraries continue to be significant in our society?

Addressing this question is the impetus behind National Library Week. Brainchild of both the ALA and American Book Publishers in 1958, April 23 – 29 became a week–long awareness campaign to promote the vital role of libraries in encouraging continuous learning. Each year, a theme is chosen to highlight the multifaceted role our libraries play in our communities. For 2023, “There’s More to the Story” focuses on the evolution of libraries as they keep pace with the world. The public library has grown from its inception in the 1800s, transforming from the traditional repository of books to a variegated source of knowledge offering multimedia, museum passes, tools, games, and musical instruments. Library programming expands our experiences with services such as lectures, crafting classes, book clubs, storytimes, and movie nights. Libraries further support community development by providing access to the internet and relevant technology, literacy skills, and assistance to entrepreneurs, businesses, and prospective employees.

 

Readers And Writers

The doors are open, the guardians bid us welcome. What can we do as readers to reframe the learning experience and co-create a cultural renaissance?

This coming National Library Week, set a reading date with your pen friends and visit your local library to show support. Give thanks to your friendly neighborhood librarian for their service in honor of National Librarian Day, perhaps through a handwritten note or handmade card using your favorite fountain pen and ink!

Immerse yourself in the tactile, human experience of perusing interesting books, choosing one, and spending some time pleasantly lost within the words. Extend the encounter by borrowing a book and inviting your friends for a reading session at your favorite coffee or tea place. Bring a piece of that library into your world (and please don’t forget to return it ;) ). If you’re like me and my friends — chances are you’ll bring your pens and journals along — just in case you’d need to write down a captivating line or two while reading that book and for a pen meet as well!

Another way to support your local community of readers is to donate — whether financially to help maintain the library or through gently–used or new books to enrich its collection. Every little bit helps to sustain a resource that empowers the minds and nurtures the hearts of a society, and promotes the reading experience that by its tangibility lives on through memory.

 

 

Happy Reading!

 

 

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Written by @lekzumali
Check out her musings on Instagram!

Author: Lekz

2 comments

Lekz Umali

Hello Jennifer. I’m grateful for your thoughts. I’ve always loved being in a library, both for the knowledge it contains and the experience of learning within it. The librarians I’ve had the pleasure to encounter further encouraged me to keep coming back. Thank you again for helping us seekers in our quests!

Jennifer

As a librarian I just want to say thank you for such a touching post. I work in a special collections library, usually tucked away behind the scenes cataloging rare books, making them discoverable in the online catalog for researchers worldwide, so it is always a delight when I am in the reading room and get see the excitement of a student touching a 16th century book or a medieval manuscript for the first time (no white gloves needed!), or when a seasoned researcher discovering something they’ve been searching for in an archival collection. Thank you for supporting libraries and librarians!

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