Weekly Tea Discussion: Libraries Reconnection With Reading

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It’s that time of year again. Temperatures rise, the sun seems to shine so much brighter, and summer reading arrives in full swing. Summer Reading, not only in schools, but a popular staple in public libraries. It is a special time where they really promote the great programs that occur and provide a great alternative of free summer activities that range from video game programs, art programs, movies, and knitting circles. And reading, of course.

But lately, I have noticed a change. While I worked at the library this past year, it will be 2 years this coming September, programs and initiatives that revolved around were severely lacking. I mean, there really was no accountability or little encouragement for people to participate in the challenge. However, an ongoing campaign at the library I work has made me question libraries’ true feelings about reading, which leads me to this week’s tea discussion, libraries sudden realization that they are institutions of reading.

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This year’s Summer Reading theme is “Build A Better World”, a theme that could not have come at a better time. With President Trump (enough said there) and recent terrorist attacks, having a theme that revolves around making a world a better place is the right fit that we need right now. And my library seems to think so. In fact, they even took a step further. Instead of promoting the theme as “Build A Better World”, they added “Through Reading” at the end of it. Normally, I wouldn’t have a problem with this. This is no different from last year’s theme, “Get in the Game: Read!”. My problem is where this sudden urge of reading encouragement and libraries connection with this pleasant activity.

The beginning of the year, our overlords at work through reading campaigns and initiatives at us and they wanted us to promote to the public. They wanted us to create booklists, make use of staff pick cards…highlight reading in general so the public would be encouraged to read more. Now, I have nothing against that sentiment, however, I did find all of this sudden passion for reading to be a bit hypocritical. Where is all this coming from? Is it because we currently have a president that not only flaunts his lack of care for reading, but is threatening to defund literary institutions, such as libraries and museums? As my time in my current position went on, I started to notice a trend. There was rarely any programming dealing with reading. Sure, there is an early literacy initiative, which is important, but only focuses on reading for the young, not the older children or even the adults. When there was one (which was rare), it received very little recognition and very little attention. Anything dealing with technology always made headlines.

Stevenson_Washington_public_library_interiorWe wouldn’t be fighting (and yes it is a fight) for people to read, especially during the summer, if we did a better job of promoting it. The creation of libraries were built of the foundation of learning, i.e. the reading of books. This sudden passion to “get back to our roots”, after distancing yourself from it for so long, is insincere and unfortunately may go unnoticed.

Yes, the survival of reading is vital in today’s society and libraries and reading go hand in hand. However, libraries should connect with reading because of its value, not because of fear what may come.

 

What do you think? Do you believe that libraries are promoting reading or do you feel they need to do more? Please comment below.

 

You can find more of my Weekly Tea Discussions here.

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