Barbara Ferry, Director, National Geographic Library
I remember getting my first library card when I was about eight. My family couldn’t afford to buy many new books and my mom would drop me at the Public Library’s front door nearly every weekend. I would sit for hours exploring the world from the Library’s stacks. If I got stuck, there were always helpful librarians to dispense guidance on the best things to read. (The original content curators!) Even today, with all that the Internet offers in terms of information and entertainment, 68% of U.S. information consumers have a library card and that that number rises to 81% for those who have been economically impacted by the recession. Those impacted Americans (about 20% of the U.S. population), are using their public libraries more than ever to check out books, visit the Internet, and use the other free resources that their libraries provide.*
This week is National Library Week (April 10-16), an event sponsored by the American Library Association, which represents thousands of public and school libraries in the U.S. We celebrate these institutions that are also aligned with the Society’s mission to increase and diffuse knowledge about geography and the planet. Our library is celebrating by planning some fun events for staff: we are taking their photos for their own READ posters (our first customer was John Fahey, CEO of National Geographic!) and offering demonstrations of how to download free public library e-books on their Android and Apple devices. (Many National Geographic e-books are already available in public libraries though NetLibrary and Overdrive.)
It is easy to take for granted the free, public access to libraries that our nation provides. In many countries, libraries are still for the rich if they are allowed at all. You can show your support for public libraries and celebrate what they do for your community by visiting your local library or their website during National Library Week. They may have some fun activities planned! You can locate branches by state and county at this website, PublicLibraries.com or visit your municipality’s website.
*Perceptions of Libraries, 2010 (OCLC)