“September is a busy month for libraries nationwide,” said Assistant Director Ryan Johnson in this week’s O’Fallon Weekly. “For starters, it’s Library Card Sign-Up Month.” The American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country remind community members that getting a library card is the first step toward success in school, becoming a lifelong learner and an engaged community member, Ryan explained.
“If you are reading this article,” Ryan said, you are likely already an active library user.” But you may know someone who hasn’t yet discovered all that the library has to offer, he said.
“When I was getting my Masters in Library Science, it was not uncommon for friends and family to question my decision-making,” Ryan explained. Some would ask if libraries were still relevant, or they would suggest that ebooks and Google have erased the need for libraries. “I would politely smile – most of the time – and explain to my well-intentioned loved ones that libraries of today are so much more than just books,” Ryan said.
Library programs help combat the summer slide students can experience over the long summer break, and our many early literacy programs help kids get ready for preschool and kindergarten.
“We help adults with resumes and job searches, and we provide engaging and enriching events for the community,” Ryan said. If you’re a patron, you know this. But some people in your social networks – face-to-face and online – may not know this yet, and Ryan asked that you bring them in and give them a tour.
September is also notable for Banned Books Week, beginning the 23rd. We and many libraries have displays up that feature banned and challenged books over the years. Beloved classics such as the Harry Potter series, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Of Mice and Men are just a few of the titles that have been challenged by private groups and public authorities, Ryan said. Every year, more books are challenged. In 2017, Thirteen Reasons Why, The Hate U Give, and The Kite Runner are just a few that were challenged, Ryan stated.
“The library and the ALA support making sure these titles remain available for everyone to read, and in September, we reaffirm that position by celebrating Banned Books,” Ryan said. After all, the first three articles of the Library Bill of Rights deals with censorship and accessibility issues:
I. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
II. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
“Stop by and view our display,” Ryan said. “It’s full of books, informational takeaways, quotes, and more. Celebrate your freedom to read!”
You can also celebrate your freedom to read “Library News & Notes” each Wednesday in the O’Fallon Weekly.