Michelle Harrell Washington

by Michelle Harrell Washington, MATC manager, library and information services

Each April, libraries, library workers and librarians join in a celebration of National Library Week. This year’s celebration is April 10-16. First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is an observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country.  It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support.

As in years past, the MATC Libraries will join that celebration.  This year, however, we feel a special connection to National Library Week, because the 2016 theme is “Libraries Transform.” That theme very closely aligns with the new MATC brand tag line of “Transforming Lives, Industry and Community.” It is absolutely true that libraries transform lives, industry, community and beyond.

These days, you often hear individuals remark that they didn’t know people still went to libraries. You also hear that no one needs the library for books because you can download them to your Kindle!  However, with the downturn of the economy, more people than ever are using libraries to find jobs, for entertainment, to brush up on computer skills and to support their educational endeavors. Considering that more than a quarter of U.S. households do not have internet access, libraries are important for all of these reasons, as well as activities associated with running a household, such as paying bills and accessing services.

In our MATC Libraries, we work with students to help them be successful in their academic lives, but we also help them with activities related to their everyday lives.  I like to think of it as providing holistic information services. Many of our students have families, jobs and other responsibilities in addition to their school work. Since every aspect of their lives is interrelated, helping them meet school deadlines often also helps them meet personal deadlines or goals. If these goals are not met, it can have a negative ‘domino effect’ on their entire lives.

Libraries also work to transform the lives of those in their communities by planning and hosting cultural, informational or literary events.  These events allow participants to learn about aspects of their community they may not be aware of, services that can enhance their lives, community resources that can help them on their educational journey and entertainment options in their neighborhoods.

During National Library Week 2016, visit a local library and take a look at all that is offered. Libraries offer more than just books!  Take some time to participate in activities at your community library.  You can learn more about National Library Week at http://www.ala.org/conferencesevents/celebrationweeks/natlibraryweek, and get involved with the ALA’s Libraries Transform initiative by visiting their web site at http://www.ilovelibraries.org/librariestransform/get-involved.