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Libraries' importance highlighted in April

Photo by Curt Yeomans
Gordon Baker, dean of libraries at Clayton State University, thumbs through a book in the university's library. Libraries are in the spotlight this month, with the celebrations of National School Library Month, and National Library Week.

Photo by Curt Yeomans Gordon Baker, dean of libraries at Clayton State University, thumbs through a book in the university's library. Libraries are in the spotlight this month, with the celebrations of National School Library Month, and National Library Week.

Shhhhhhhhhh.

April is the American Association of School Librarians' 60th Annual National School Library Month, and next week is the American Library Association's 53rd Annual National Library Week, which highlights libraries of all types.

Through out this month, the services that libraries provide for the communities they serve, will be in the spotlight, according to local librarians.

These are the services that range from providing books for students to use for school-research projects, to providing programs to the community, on topics of community interest.

"It gives the libraries a chance to really show off what they have, during a specific point in time," said Gordon Baker, the dean of libraries at Clayton State University. "The materials are always there for the citizens to use, but when they have a special time, they [libraries] really can emphasize different things for different days."

Baker, who is also the chairman of the Henry County Library System's Board of Directors, and Clayton County Library System Director Carol Stewart said libraries are unique places, because they are intended, and designed, to accommodate people of all ages. That includes the newborn infant, all the way up to the senior citizen, they said.

"We serve people, from craddle-to-the-grave," Stewart added.

Baker said that, as far as school libraries are concerned, they may be one of the most important areas in any educational institution, partly because of the institution's mission, and also because of the materials held in a library.

"School libraries, no matter if it's elementary, middle, high school, or college, provide the resources that support the curriculum," Baker said. "I've always considered the library to be the largest classroom in any school, at any level, because it holds all the resources. Plus, it has experts there who can help you find the information you're looking for."

As part of National Library Week, Baker said the Clayton State Library will hold its annual used book sale fund-raiser, from April 11, through April 14.

Stewart said libraries, such as the six branches that she oversees in Clayton County, have to take advantage of opportunities, such as National School Library Month, and National Library Week, to raise their own profiles. Clayton County libraries, for example, offer a wide range of programs, ranging from storytime activities for young children, to programs on how to search for a job, or how to fix a car.

Still, Stewart said not every member of the public may know about those programs.

"There are parts of the community that don't know what we do, because they've never been inside a library," she said. "We're a resource for information for all ages. We have books for babies, and we have books for the elderly."

So, as libraries take the center stage this month, local library officials are hoping that at least some people will become more aware of the role of a library in the community.

But, for those people who venture into a library this month for the first time ever, just remember one thing. Please be quiet. These are libraries, after all.