CHICAGO–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–April 6, 2004–While library budget cuts have hurt services in more than 40 states, communities throughout the country are planning their annual celebration of National Library Week, April 18-24. This comes at a time when public library visits have reached an all-time high, and library services for immigrant communities are on the rise.
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, in the past decade, 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.
Despite such widespread use of public library services, an American Library Association (ALA) study shows that more than 40 states have seen library funding cuts in school, public and college and university libraries. At least $50 million in budgets, 520 service hours and 661 staff members have been cut from libraries in the last 10 months.
“Libraries must have the funding to meet the increased needs of our users – from offering free Internet access to creating multilingual collections and programs,” said ALA President Carla Hayden. “In order for libraries to continue to be places of opportunity for everyone everywhere, library staff and our advocates must speak up and speak out on behalf of the millions who depend on our services.”
Following is a brief list of some of the vital programs and services taking place in libraries today:
— Public libraries have played an important role in addressing the “Digital Divide,” the inequalities in both access to information technology and the ability to use it. Among library users, African Americans and Hispanics rank as the communities that rely most heavily on library computers for Internet access, according to a recent study by the Gates Foundation. Libraries across the country are providing Spanish-speaking users with computer classes, online educational resources, and the means to communicate with family members who live abroad.
— Public libraries are preparing infants and preschoolers to read. A recent national study shows that parents and caregivers of children under 5 years who took part in research-based public library early literacy programs significantly increased their literacy behaviors. The behaviors introduced through the program led to significant gains in children’s reading readiness. To learn more about early literacy and how parents and libraries can team for reading readiness, please visit http://www.ala.org/alsc/btrspanish.html
— At a time when election coverage is a daily occurrence, libraries across the country will participate in Register to Vote @ your library(R), an online voter registration effort. Libraries offer a civic space where the public can find voting information, speak freely, share similar interests and concerns and pursue what they believe is in their interest. http://www.yourvotematters.org/ala
— Many schools will observe School Library Media Month throughout April with open houses and other events that highlight the contributions of school libraries and librarians. Research in 14 states shows that the highest achieving students attend schools with well-stocked and staffed school library media centers. http://www.ala.org/aaslTemplate.cfm?Section=studentachieve
— Dozens of libraries will celebrate the first annual National Library Workers Day on Tuesday, April 20. Almost 395,000 people work in libraries across the country, providing a range of services from cataloging and shelving materials to organizing programs and events to updating the library’s Web site. http://www.ala-apa.org/nlwd/index.htm
To learn more about National Library Week and the ALA, please visit http://www.ala.org/nlw2004.
Media interested in scheduling interviews with English or Spanish-speaking national spokespeople should contact the ALA Public Information Office, Larra Clark at 312-280-5043, Macey Morales at 312-280-4393 or Kathy Mirkin at 312-280-5044.
With more than 63,000 members worldwide, the ALA is the voice of America’s libraries and the millions of people who depend on them.