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April is the month to celebrate local libraries

It’s difficult to miss the articles, blogs and news reports describing the problems too much screen time can create for a child’s cognitive development. But you might be surprised to find out that this concern has been with society for decades.

In the mid-1950s, a research study showed that Americans were spending less money on books and more on radios and televisions. Concluding that those findings meant Americans were reading less, a nonprofit citizens organization, the National Book Committee, was formed. In addition to promoting reading, the committee also had ambitious goals like “improving incomes and health” and “developing strong and happy family life.” Collaborating with the American Library Association and the Advertising Council, the National Book Committee hatched the idea of a national library week.

National Library Week (the second week of April), is a celebration of libraries: welcoming places where we can connect with others, learn new skills and focus on what each of us considers most important. In addition to resources for learning and entertainment, libraries provide a wide range of programming, striving to be considerate of and responsive to their patrons’ needs. Activities such as story times, book clubs, author talks, workshops and social events are presented, not only to promote reading and learning, but also to help people connect with those who have similar interests. These connections have the potential to build relationships that last a lifetime.

April is full of fantastic activities at all of La Plata County’s local libraries. An exciting annual event hosted by Sunnyside Library is “Edible Books.” A patron suggested this creative event to library manager Nancy Logan in 2013. Participants celebrate their love of reading by choosing a book and using edible items to represent the title, cover, a character or a scene in the book. Sharing the creations becomes the highlight of the event, as participants enjoy delicious cakes, tacos – even green eggs and ham. This year’s Edible Books event will be held at 3 p.m. April 11 at Sunnyside Library. All are welcome, whether you bring an edible creation or not.

Like the National Book Committee of old, modern libraries continue to promote reading, provide alternatives to screens and strive to achieve lofty goals. A quick perusal of local libraries’ strategic plans yields these aspirations: “Pursue excellence in all aspects of library service” (Durango Public Library); “Connect community members to resources, possibilities, and one another” (Pine River Library); “Bring people and ideas together for learning and personal growth” (Ignacio Community Library); and “Serve and strengthen rural communities” (Southwest La Plata Library District).

Whether you are transitioning from high school to college, launching a new business, preparing for a new career, finding your way in a new community, nurturing youngsters or managing an empty nest, your library provides an encouraging, understanding community to support you throughout your journey. Please look through your library’s list of events and join us as we celebrate libraries and celebrate you.

Rebecca Benally is library director for the Southwest La Plata Library District.