From the Beacon: This Jan. 27, remember your public library

South Carolina will celebrate the third Public Library Appreciation Day -- or PLAD, as it's come to be known -- on Jan. 27. That's the day library volunteers, board members and program advocates spend time visiting with their legislators at the state capital to share stories about the impact that public libraries are making in communities across our state.

Though this is but one day in Columbia, the Beaufort County Public Library is here every day of the year bringing literacy development, education, recreation and access to information to our community. There's a lot going on in 2010, so mark your calendar for these highlights:

February is National Black History Month, and you can find great resources not only on African-American but also Gullah-Geechee culture. Whether you're looking for children's stories, cook books or details about local legends such as Robert Smalls or places such as the Penn Center, you're sure to discover something new about our unique Lowcountry history.

On Feb. 27 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., all branches will celebrate the fourth annual Beaufort County Library Open House. This years' theme, "Connecting You to the World," will include classes about our new Web site and on how to navigate our databases to find work force, health or recreational information, special children's story times to reinforce the importance of reading and, new this year, social networking workshops including "how-to" guides for Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, blogs and wikis.

In May, we'll celebrate Children's Book Week which runs from May 10-16, which is a great lead-in to our June kickoff for our annual Summer Reading Program. What's Summer Reading? It's where kids, teens and adults read for fun and prizes all summer long. You may ask, why spend so much time encouraging reading throughout the year with special emphasis in the summer? According to a 1978 landmark study by Barbara Heyns, not only do the number of books read in summer relate to a child's academic gains in school the next year but children in every income group who read six or more books in summer gained more in reading achievement than children who did not.

In 2010 we'll be conducting customer surveys in our branches and online at beaufortcountylibrary.org to find out how we can better serve you and what programs you want and need most. Take some time and participate if you can -- your input helps us develop our annual programs and ensures that our library branches are truly great gathering places that reflect our unique community.