Thank a librarian

Today is National Library Workers Day. I managed to thank three librarians. I got the official name of the day wrong (I kept calling it “National Library Staff Appreciation Day”; I have no idea where I got that from). But I got the sentiment right.

If it seems kind of corny to thank a librarian or a library worker — it’s not. Library workers were on the front lines during the COVID lockdown, arranging for pickup of library books, getting coughed on by thoughtless library patrons who came to pick up books, putting together online resources to keep library patrons sane, and more. Then in the last two years, librarians have been on the front lines of the culture wars; the American Library Association recently reported that “for a second year in a row the number of books targeted for censorship nearly doubled from the previous year.”

One of the purposes of National Library Workers Day, by the way, is to “advocate for better compensation for all library workers.” Librarians are often woefully under-compensated; I think this is partly because library work is often viewed as “women’s work,” which to many people means it’s worth less. But librarians are actually critically important because they help promote the free and unfettered flow of information upon which a healthy democracy is founded.

Finally, Thursday is National Take Action for Libraries Day. That’s the day when you are encouraged to write to your elected representatives and tell them how important it is to support libraries. The theme this year is “Tell Congress: Stand Against Censorship.”

National Emergency Library

The Internet Archive has opened up their collection of 1.4 million books with no waiting list during the COVID-19 crisis.

They’re trying to support schools which are doing online learning, and trying to support everyone who has been shut out of their local library.

Their collection consists of mostly 20th century materials, mostly still in copyright, that are out of print and not easily accessible as ebooks. I’ve used some of their books in the past, when you had to “check out” books for a specific period of time (and if the book was in use, you had to wait for it). It’s a small but excellent collection. Best of all, their online reader is excellent — their reader makes Google Books look absolutely sick in comparison.

So if you’ve been suffering from book deprivation, access the National Emergency Library here.