Libraries are more than houses with books. They are probably the only truly public places available to everyone that don’t require money or status to access. They are places of knowledge and community hubs where people can connect and engage in various activities. Apart from renting books, libraries serve us in so many ways:
- They are the best research centers for all types of studies and research.
- They archive local history and serve as museums.
- They host free book clubs.
- They provide free public meeting spaces.
- They run free kids’ and family-friendly programs and clubs; they offer after-school homework help.
- They offer free internet access and computer classes for all ages.
- They also launch community outreach programs and overall support to people living in remote areas and programs designed to help immigrants learn how to live in the U.S.
- They also host a vast number of cultural events and, in many locations, serve as central cultural hubs.
In other words, libraries and their social infrastructure are extremely important for any place. Besides, on a more personal level, libraries as social hubs are the places where people can connect and get involved in activities that help avoid isolation and loneliness (which is especially the case with senior citizens and mothers with small kids).
Are Libraries Still Popular?
It may come as a surprise, but there are many more people actually going to libraries and participating in various library events than you’ve probably imagined.
According to the 2019 Gallup poll, visiting the library is the “most common cultural activity Americans engage in by far.” It was reported that Americans take an average of 10.5 trips to the library, which exceeded their participation in other activities.
On a national level, the Seattle Public Library is leading the way both in the number of activities and programs offered and people who participate; Columbus library follows suit, with five of every 10,000 residents being active in library programs annually. Other libraries have high levels of program attendance as well: San Francisco, Philadelphia, Boston, Detroit, and Charlotte, to name a few.
However, everything that happens in libraries does so thanks to all the people working there. That’s why each year in April, we celebrate National Library Workers Day to recognize the valuable contribution made by all librarians through their work and dedication.
National Library Worker’ Day History
The holiday is a part of the National Library Week that takes place every April. Sponsored by the American Library Association, the first National Library Workers Day was celebrated in 2004. What started as an initiative to raise support for library workers has become an annual promotional event that aims to put libraries and their needs in the spotlight as well as to celebrate the effort of the library workers and express gratitude for what they do. After all, due to their unique contributions, people get knowledge, find the information they need, find jobs, stay connected, stay included in social life regardless of age, attend recreational events, and so much more. Here are the dates of this year’s National Library Workers’ Day and the ones in the following years:
How to Celebrate National Library Workers’ Day
We tend to forget, but libraries are the places where highly skilled workers work, and they are the ones who will quickly and efficiently help your find information, do research, and whatnot. They will be pleased to get their fair share of appreciation.
There are many ways you can show support to library workers on National Library Workers’ Day:
- First of all, you can visit your local library on the way to work and greet library workers.
- Or you can visit a library, stay, and read a book.
- You can support the local library by either offering help in person or by offering a donation (or basically anything you can do and they may need).
- Make a #NationalLibraryWorkersDay post on social media.
- Take your kids to one of the library-held activities.
- Hold a garage sale: if you have books at home that you no longer need, you can sell them and give them a new life.
- Alternatively, you can donate your books to a local library.
Fantastic U.S. Libraries
We’ve already covered several most fantastic libraries in the U.S. in our article The Best Places in the U.S. to Relax and Read a Book: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, George Peabody Library, and Seattle Public Library.
In this article, we’ll take a look at a few more amazing libraries you can visit, so tune in!
Phillips Exeter Academy Library
Exeter, North Hampton
Let’s start with the Phillips Exeter Academy Library. The library is a part of Phillips Exeter Academy, which is a boarding school, and unique in many ways: the stunning architecture makes it stand out, and its book collection is definitely impressive—with 250,000 volumes, it is the largest secondary school library in the world. Designed by renowned architect Louis I. Kahn, it’s the massive cube-shaped block of dark-red brick from the outside (to match the Georgian buildings of the school) with circular staircases and huge round openings inside (perfect for studies and contemporary in style). The entire interior looks like a setting from a movie, and the openings are awe-inspiring: they span three floors high and create an unforgettable impression. The idea of creating a building where “the emphasis should not be on housing books but on housing readers using books” was an absolute success.
Billings Public Library
Billings Public Library proves that libraries don’t always have to be dark; instead, they can be light, spacious, transparent, and as state-of-the-art as possible. The library’s architecture aims to provide the readers with an abundance of light—daylight, to be specific, which explains the number of glass facades, huge windows, daylight control, and all things lighting. Designed by Will Bruder Architects, the library features a minimalistic outline that emerged from the restored 19th-century main train depot and the block-long warehouse buildings with the addition of modern materials and details. It is a dynamic and sustainable community hub, with more than 200,000 volumes to check out and a vast number of programs and activities offered to the public. This place in Montana is definitely worth a visit.
UC San Diego, California
No way a library can be dull when it looks like the Geisel Library with its futuristic concrete and glass structure, 7 million volumes, and access to all possible study and research opportunities (for students of the University of California). It was designed by renowned architect William Pereira in 1970 and named for Audrey and Theodor Seuss Geisel (known as Dr. Seuss) in 1995. Though it’s a university library and thus is not usually frequented by the general public, you should pay it a visit. “Mother ship,” as it is tenderly called by students, is a busy center of campus and a sight to behold. For one thing, not every day you come across such a fantastic specimen of Brutalist architecture; for another, you may be lucky to attend one of the events or activities they host throughout the year. One more interesting fact: one of the urban legends has it that Geisel library has so many books that it’s sinking.
Mississippi Library Commission Headquarters
The Mississippi Library Commission is a reference library and a major institution that supports other libraries in the state. It is open to the general public, and its major goals are to provide access “to well-managed library services through qualified staff and modern facilities” and “to quality library resources.” Apart from a range of traditional services, the library regularly hosts art exhibitions of Mississippi artists. Besides, the 60,000 square foot building of the library is located in the woods. Due to its laconic and elegant structure as well as the use of natural materials (wood, metal, glass, and stone), it blends naturally with the environment and thus has great appeal for patrons and visitors alike. It’s a place for research and contemplation; there is no surprise that since its opening in 2005, it has won several design awards.
Oak Forest Neighborhood Library
Oak Forest Neighborhood Library is not as grand as some of the above-mentioned libraries we’ve covered; however, it can definitely impress with its looks. First opened in 1961, it was originally built as a modern building; however, with time, the original building became outdated and had to be renovated to make it readily accessible and meet the needs of Houston residents. In 2011, the renovated library was opened. The design team managed to enlarge the space (4,500 square feet were added to the completely renovated 7,500 square feet original structure) and preserve the library’s style and air. What you definitely need to do during your visit is to check the stunning green tile mosaics and an outdoor reading room under the trees.
Suzzallo and Allen Libraries
Let’s move on from a modernist to a more magnetic structure. The Reading Room in Suzzallo and Allen Libraries, with all the Gothic arches, vaulted ceilings, stained glass windows, ornate chandeliers, and wooden tables inside, looks exactly like the place where Harry Potter movies were filmed (they were not, by the way, so don’t expect any owls bringing you letters). You won’t miss the library building on campus: there is a cathedral-like grandeur in every architectural and décor element. The Suzzallo library opened in 1926, and the more modern Allen Library was added in 1990. It is a university library with more than 2 million books and documents, so it’s visited by students and university staff for the most part, and you won’t be able to borrow books if you are not a
Hogwarts student. However, it is free to visit, so you can participate in one of the workshops or attend an exhibition.
Our last review is about a modern library located in Arizona—Arabian Library. (By the way, did you know that it is named after a horse breed?) It has a strikingly simple structure, but it looks like it belongs to the desert. Even if you’ve never been to Arizona, you’ve definitely heard about its famous slot canyons. Being inside the library building and on its grounds feels pretty much like inside one of those slot canyons. The weathered steel walls mimic terra-cotta walls of stone that stay tall, lean overhead, and open to the sky. Yet, this is a library, or rather, a library experience, an exploration. It’s also a community hub: no more and no less, and it redefines a library as a place just for getting a book you need. Once you are in Arizona, we strongly recommend you visit and participate in its versatile activities.
With this, we hope your National Library Workers Day is full of events, and we also hope you manage to visit a local library to greet the librarians, read or borrow a book or participate in one of the activities, planned and run by the library workers with love and dedication. Let’s not forget that they make libraries work and that libraries are more than just houses with books!