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National Library Week: Welcome to Your Library, In Person or Virtually

This post was written by Lynn Weinstein a Business Reference Librarian in the Science, Technology, and Business Division.

This year’s National Library Week (April 4 – 10, 2021) is being celebrated with the theme “Welcome to Your Library,” which recognizes the importance of delivering library services beyond the traditional brick and mortar library, particularly during challenging times, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic. In the past year, we have seen libraries respond to patrons’ needs by providing curbside service and opening for school children needing internet access to complete homework assignments, as well as for seniors requiring computers to make vaccination appointments. Some library workers have been recruited by their communities to serve as contact tracers because of their reference interviewing and organizational skills.

Like many of you, I had very different plans for this past year than I managed to realize.  I have been teleworking since last March due to the pandemic, and as I reflected on this year’s theme, I considered how my institution has tried to serve our greater community and how this has challenged and enhanced our skills as librarians.

Photograph of a young man sitting on the steps of a closed library with a laptop. The screen of the laptop is illuminating his face.

On wifi in front of Justin Morrill Memorial & Harris Library, Strafford, VT. July 2011. Photo: Robert Dawson, photographer. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Rights restricted, used with photographer’s permission.

The Science, Technology & Business Division reworked our in-person orientation sessions and we are now offering a virtual webinar, Business Research Orientation, as well as our Discovering Science Collections Virtually at the Library of Congress webinar every other month. Business Reference Services  plans on offering our popular in-person Doing Historical Company Research class virtually in June and October. We have found that offering these presentations virtually has allowed us to reach  larger and more diverse audiences. The Library of Congress has a variety of events and programs for students, teachers, and the general public featuring research orientations, book author talks, and performing arts events. We offer research guides on a wide variety of subjects that link to print, electronic, and digitized resources, some of which are open access, meaning they are freely available to you in your home. You can stay in touch with the Library of Congress and learn new ways to use its resources through our collection of social media technologies and bulletin services, including our division’s blog Inside Adams.

As I researched this year’s theme, I came across the photograph in the Library of Congress’ prints and photographs catalog which appears at the top of this blog. Taken by Robert Dawson, it shows a student using the Wi-Fi of his local public library, The photographer describes this image of the library and the student, who happens to be his son, as follows:

The small Justin Morrill Memorial & Harris Library in rural Stafford has free wi-fi access. Like many small, rural libraries this is the only place for miles to connect to the Internet. The library leaves the wi-fi on at night and people come from all over the area with their laptops. I photographed Walker with the glow of the computer screen on his face using the free access to information from the darkened library. I imagined that Senator Morrill would be pleased.

I would like to imagine that the response of libraries and librarians during the pandemic has served as a type of light in the darkness and has been a continuation of how the library profession has tried to meet its patrons’ expectations by adapting to changing and challenging circumstances.

Celebrate National Library Week:

  • Search for “National Library Week” or check out the hashtags #LibrariesTransform and #NationalLibraryWeek on social media.
  • Find your local public library, state public library, or federal library or archive. Visit in person or virtually.
  • Do you know someone with a disability that prevents them from using regular print materials? Explore the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled at the Library of Congress to see if this national network of cooperative libraries could assist you or a loved one.
  • Please tell us in the comments about the libraries or librarians that have encouraged, nurtured, or taught you!

Do you want more stories like this? Then subscribe to Inside Adams — it’s free!

One Comment

  1. Richard A Pearlson
    April 7, 2021 at 6:51 pm

    I both praise and give great thanks for all those who have dedicated so much towards our ever improving Library Empowerment. Our present need for healthy ethical inclusive solutions to today’s World Challenges….is so substantially given both hope and security by the vastness of what our Library’s are…and are becoming…the ever expanding universe is poetically Intune with our Universal Learning Library Knowledge Availability Space….A Great Thanks to all for helping make it happen, protecting it and helping to nurture and help it grow in life enriching ways….everyday.

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