April 2022
Make Time for the Library During National Library Week
Written by: Dennis Harkins
"I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library."
-- Jorge Luis Borges, Argentine novelist & poet.

The most important asset of any library goes home at night – the library staff. –Timothy Healy

This week (April 3 – 9) is National Library Week, and it couldn’t be a better time to visit your library.

Renovations at my town’s library are complete, and it looks great! Keeping with the new trends in libraries there are more spaces for meetings, quiet study, technology use, and even an area with vending machines to read and have a snack.

We have new areas for young children and teens, and more resources for them, and that’s a trend in communities everywhere. Libraries can have a tremendous influence on the lives of children and we know how much our future depends on them. There will be all kinds of activities in new spaces for young people -- libraries everywhere now encourage children to create and collaborate as well as explore books.

Take a little time at your library this week to notice something else: the care that goes into making the library a welcoming place for all ages of readers.
Librarians do more than check out books, and sometimes we overlook their best work. Look for a display of books on a monthly theme, sometimes topical, sometimes whimsical. There’s usually a display rack of “Staff Picks” and I’ve found surprises there – maybe an author I never knew, or a biography of someone I admire.

Our library has a large the display case with the work members of our community share with us. Last month it was a collection of Jackie Robinson memorabilia, and it brings back so many memories of growing up with baseball heroes. That case has held some other wonderful collections, too, from quilts to maps and minerals, and it is always interesting to see the interests that inspire our neighbors.

Browse the shelves, too! So many rows of books are overwhelming at first, but there lies so much inspiration. Working after school at a book bindery as a teen, I saw the care that went into creating a book. Each book has a life, sometimes the work of a lifetime for an author. Many non-fiction books are the work of a team -- artists and designers, editors and reviewers.  When someone has taken months or years to make a contribution to our common life, it shows.
We can find information online so easily now, but I still am inspired more when I browse the non-fiction shelves: gardening, home repairs, travel, sports, and lately, cooking. Who knew there were so many great books on so many subjects?

So come to the library and see for yourself. Explore. Be inspired. But don’t forget the librarians who make it come to life every day.

I remember sitting on the floor of the little branch library in my neighborhood in a big city, listening to stories read by a kindly children’s librarian. I loved the library, and since I was not at all athletic, the library was what I needed -- a quiet place with so many books for young readers and someone who helped me find stories of great explorers. I wanted to see the world, and I could do that in a safe place, quiet and calm, with librarians to help me explore.

Maybe that’s why so many great writers and world leaders share their admiration for libraries: someone helped them feel at home among all the great minds behind those books. We can only hope and pray that someday every child in every place on earth can have that, too.

Dennis Harkins
Friends of the Aiken County Public Library
South Carolina State Library Releases Library Statistics by County
Need an easy-to-navigate “go-to” to illustrate public libraries’ impact? Look no further than the resource guide on our home page. Just click on a county to reveal highlights of what public libraries are doing in their communities.
An Evening with Kim Michele Richardson
Friends of SC Libraries | fosclpresident@gmail.com | www.foscl.org