This week, October 16-22, is National Friends of Libraries Week. Library Friends groups across the nation will be promoting their libraries and libraries themselves will be staging special events and other appreciations of the Library Friends who help them so much. DCPL branches will be offering patrons the chances to show support by purchasing a “leaf of support” for $1 each. We also have many events planned. Go to our own Friends of the Library page for more information.
I’ve known people who take the existence of public libraries for granted but, as recent economic news has shown, it’s best not to take too nonchalant an attitude, that is if you value your library and what it can provide to you and to your community.
How long have public libraries existed in the United States? As early as the 1600’s, churches and private individual established libraries in towns and parishes through donations of books. In 1731, Benjamin Franklin helped establish the Library Company of Philadelphia which was a subscription library lending to those who paid to become a member. True public libraries, as we know them, began emerging in the 1800’s when New Hampshire establishing the first tax-supported public library operating under the motto “open to all and free of charge.” However, it wasn’t until 1881, with the establishment of Andrew Carnegie’s legacy, that the U.S. saw the vast expansion of the public library system that so many of us enjoy and benefit from today.
If you’re a library buff in general, be sure to check out The Most Beautiful Libraries in the World (mentioned in a previous post by fellow blogger Jesse). There are some truly spectacular libraries featured in the book including two of my favorites: Trinity College Library in Dublin, Ireland and the New York Public Library. Also, don’t miss Library: the drama within another book of photographs presenting a variety of libraries—from the grand national library in Paris, to prison libraries, to tiny branch libraries in small towns.
For a very readable history of libraries and the important role that they have played in history, try Library: An Unquiet History by Matthew Battle.
What’s it like to actually work in a public library? Free for all: oddballs, geeks, and gangstas in the public library by Don Borchert is an amusing account of life on the front lines of a public library in Los Angeles told by a man who has truly seen it all.
Remember, this week is your chance to come out and show your support for your local branch and the wonderful Friends groups who provide so much of their hard work year round. Buy a leaf for a dollar at any branch of DCPL and show your love!