Chicago, IL—(HISPANIC PR WIRE)—March 23, 2005–Perhaps now more than any other time since National Library Week was first celebrated in 1958, communities are fighting to keep library doors open and staff in place to serve millions of diverse users. Despite growing library use and circulation of multilingual materials, library budgets nationwide have been slashed at least $109 million in the past two years, according to the American Library Association’s (ALA) library funding Web site.
The development of Spanish-language library collections and programs for Hispanic youths and adults continues to increase, and Internet literacy programs for Spanish-speaking users are becoming more prevalent. According to the most recent federal statistics, public library visits have more than doubled to almost 1.2 billion annually, and a record-setting 1.79 billion items were borrowed from libraries in one year alone.
“Libraries must have the funding to meet the increased needs of our families – from free Internet access to English as a Second Language classes,” said ALA President Carol Brey-Casiano. “Investing in libraries is an investment in our future.”
The financial challenges facing libraries are steep. The Bedford (Texas) Public Library faces closure after a tax rollback measure narrowly passed, and state funding to California school libraries has fallen to $4.2 million from $158 million five years ago.
In the last month, however, the Rally Salinas! initiative has raised more than $240,000 in the city’s bid to keep public library doors open. The Salinas (Calif.) City Council had voted to close the three libraries – including the Cesar Chavez Library – in the face of a $9 million deficit for fiscal year 2005-2006. Salinas’ community is over 60 percent Hispanic, and all of its residents heavily rely on the library for access to computers, literacy and cultural programs.
This year’s National Library Week theme is “Something for Everyone @ your library,” and communities will celebrate the diverse voices in literature and the unifying role libraries play in building a literate nation with “Many Voices, One Nation @ your library” read-aloud events April 11.
National Library Week is sponsored by the ALA and celebrated by all types of libraries across the country each April. To learn more about National Library Week and the ALA, please visit http://www.ala.org/@yourlibrary.
ALA Media Relations