National Library Workers Day
This week we celebrate American Libraries. Today we specifically celebrate the people who staff our libraries on this National Library Workers Day. Both celebrations are sponsored by the American Library Association.
In 1876, 103 brave souls [90 men (87%) and 13 women (13%)] met in Philadelphia and formed the American Library Association (ALA). Discussions centered on patron and publisher relations, copyright issues, and librarian qualifications. Melvil Dewey, who published his classification system that year, was elected secretary and treasurer.
Not a whole lot has changed: freedom to read whatever one pleases without government intrusion; how to deal with new formats and forms of publication; copyright concerns; and what one needs to know and demonstrate in order to be called "a librarian" are still topics of professional concern. And, Melvil Dewey's system of classification? It's the most used in the world in 200,000 libraries and counting!
One key change has been transformation of librarianship from a majority male based profession into a female based one: about 82% of Master's level MLS librarians are female. (Persistent pay inequity issues based on gender will be a topic for another day.)
On National Library Workers Day communities across the U.S. recognize the contributions made by all library workers – including librarians, support staff and others who make library services possible.
“With more businesses – including a majority of America’s leading retailers – requiring online job applications, job-seeking resources are among the most critical and popular resources available in U.S. public libraries,” said American Library Association president Camila Alire. “Libraries don’t just offer the hardware, but also offer the expertise of librarians in helping teach people how to use the Internet and find the information they need quickly. While Google can give you 50,000 responses to your inquiry, your librarian can help you find the one answer you need.”
To read the latest fact and figures on the 2010 The State of America's Libraries report, click here. Here are just a few facts to whet your appetite: 65% of the respondents in a Harris Interactive nationwide poll conducted in January 2010 said they had used their public library either in person or by telephone or computer in the past year. That represents an astonishing 151.4 million Americans.
96% of respondents (representing almost 224 million people) agreed that because it provides free access to materials and resources, the public library plays an important role in giving everyone a chance to succeed.
94% agreed that the library improves the quality of life in their community.