According to Days Of The Year, which has been documenting international holidays since 2009, February is Library Lovers Month. It makes sense—Valentine’s Day is mid-month, so people are already primed to celebrate love in all its forms. Why not extend those feelings to an institution that Pew Research Center says is favorable to 77% of U.S. adults?
National Day Calendar encourages people to celebrate Library Lovers Month by enjoying the library, volunteering there, and, if necessary, getting a library card (“[I]t’s never too late!”). The site continues, “The entire month of February is dedicated to the people who love whole buildings devoted to … reading, housing, organizing, categorizing, finding, studying and otherwise loving books.” But “[l]ibraries provide so much more than a place for us to enjoy great novels or to discover amazing adventures and untold history.”
Hook ’Em While They’re Young
“I vividly remember signing up for my first library card,” says Hope L. Justice, youth services III (children’s librarian) at Logan County Libraries in Ohio. “I still have that card. Even now, I feel emotional and strongly rooted in my hometown library system, though many of the libraries have moved around and received new buildings.”
“With our arms loaded with books, my siblings and I followed my mom like ducks in a row as we walked the eight blocks to the library every week,” says Mary Wagoner, senior manager of special projects at Houston Public Library in Texas. “The building was quite old and had beautiful light fixtures and worn wood chairs in the adult area, but our favorite spot was the Children’s Area which had small chairs painted in primary colors. … Sibling rivalry about who could read the most books every summer was usually won by my older sister, who never read less than 40 books.”
Torie Gray, social media coordinator for Pasco County Libraries in Florida, also feels nostalgic for her childhood experiences at the library: “I remember the smell of my small local library. It still smells the same today!” Ariel Harris, children’s services manager at Logan County Libraries, says she remembers the carpeted floor of the children’s room in her district’s old library, where she would sit to relax with a book. She says her mother “was very intentional” about taking her and her siblings to library events.
Claire Broyles, cataloger at Radford Public Library in Virginia, remembers that her whole family would visit the library together and then go their separate ways into the various sections. “My first memory of my local library is the playhouse in the children’s department that I loved playing in,” she says. Kristina Lantz, from the social media department of Levittown Public Library in New York, says that when she and her siblings had been well-behaved, her parents would take them to the library on Fridays to pick out a VHS movie to watch as a family at home.
Library Lovers of Today
Harris is always using her own library for entertainment after work: “I personally read books, magazines, and ebooks every day in some form.” Jeanie Sluck, director of the Taylor Community Library in Pennsylvania, is also heavily invested as a patron. “Now that I am employed by the library, I still am a heavy library user,” she says. “Also, whenever I visit other libraries in the system I always make a point in checking out their audio and new book collections. I can honestly say I never leave a library empty-handed.”
Linda Ruhl, programming librarian at Kewanna-Union Township Public Library in Indiana, uses the library to check out books and magazines as well as movies. At her library, Gray downloads audiobooks and podcasts, reads “informative and educational texts, and [watches] video tutorials on Lynda.com.” Wagoner likes Lynda.com too—she’s planning to take courses on Python coding and building an online portfolio. “The selection of classes on Lynda.com is truly amazing,” she says. She also uses OverDrive and Axis 360 to download ebooks to her Kindle. Broyles uses the hoopla app on her phone to download music and audiobooks.
“I love the BorrowBox app, where I can read ebooks on my phone,” says Janette, a staff member at Western Downs Libraries in Australia. However, “nothing is quite like a walk among the shelves to find a book you cannot wait to read.”
Librarians who have children will probably want to pass along their appreciation for the library. Jackie Silver, who works with Lantz at Levittown Public Library, says she brings her daughters to check out books and attend programs. Harris also brings her daughters to the library for programming. “Considering I’m their children’s librarian, it’s fun to see them enjoying events that I plan for the community,” she says. Justice’s children even use TumbleBooks and OverDrive to read library ebooks at home.
There are other ways to make sure kids get excited about libraries. Lantz, who is teacher, says she often checks out children’s books for her students, and she reads to them every school day. Western Downs Libraries has a National Simultaneous Storytime every year, during which local children listen to the mayor or a councilor read a book, and staff members dress up as characters from that book, says Janette.
“I’ve really enjoyed my StoryTime programs,” says Harris. “I love seeing kids and grown-ups laughing, learning, and having fun in our preschool sessions.” Sluck is on her second generation of storytime attendees, “and it is so wonderful seeing these parents come in with their children like their parents used to bring them in.”
Library Lovers Month Celebrations
“This year, Pasco County Libraries will celebrate Library Lovers Month by inviting visitors to share why they love the library by writing on heart-shaped cards provided by each branch,” says Gray. “Chocolate candy will be given to those who participate. These ‘love letters’ will be displayed in the library, reminding the community of everything libraries offer. Additionally, we will host Facebook giveaways each week to those who engage with our weekly love-themed questions.”
Kewanna-Union Township Public Library is also providing patrons with the opportunity to write about why they love the library on heart-shaped paper that will be put on display. The library ties its celebration to Valentine’s Day, so Ruhl says there will be a party, during which patrons can write cards and do Valentine’s crafts, as well as join group discussions about why they love the library. Ruhl also wrote a post for the library’s webpage, saying, “If it’s been awhile, there’s no better time to stop in at Kewanna Public Library [than] during Library Lovers’ Month. Browse the shelves, check out a book or two, sit down and read, or attend an event. Fall in love all over again!”
Radford Public Library held a special event on Feb. 12—“a heartfelt day of sharing appreciation and affection for a friend, neighbor, spouse, or even your community library,” says Broyles. The library supplied materials for crafting poems, nice sayings, thank-you notes, or love letters. Patrons added notes about why they love the library to a community art display.
Justice says Logan County Libraries will celebrate all month long, with each department planning its own activities. The staff will have a junk swap and a carry-in (potluck) for their favorite foods among themselves, and the children’s department “had a family night program that was filled with snack crafts and lots of pink and red craft items.” Justice created some displays, and there are worksheets and craft printables that patrons can take home or display on the library’s art board. Harris says there will also be “prize drawings for all ages, free sweets and bookmarks, and family-friendly programming.”
“Throughout the month we will be posting pictures of what our staff members love about our library. We will be encouraging patrons to do the same,” say Levittown Public Library’s Lantz and Silver. “We will also have a display up where we will encourage patrons to fill out a heart telling us who their favorite book characters are.” Taylor Community Library will also put up displays, and it will offer activities patrons can do on their own time, such as word scrambles and a love-themed matching game that features famous couples from literature and film. “It ranges from the easy Lady and the Tramp up to Marilyn Monroe and Johnny Hyde,” says Sluck.
Western Downs Libraries’ Dalby Library is hosting an event titled Blind Date With a Book. Patrons choose a book to borrow without seeing what it is—the cover is disguised by wrapping paper that features cryptic clues about the book that’s inside, says Janette. On its website, Western Downs Libraries says that Library Lovers Month “is your chance to visit the local library—tell them how much you love them, borrow a book and escape the heat” (of Australian summer).
Sharing the Love
“I love everything about the library,” says Ruhl. “I love the books and all the things that can be checked out. I love the programs and the people that come to use the library. I especially love the Kewanna-Union Township Public Library. I didn’t grow up in this area, but everyone in the community is so welcoming and caring. The library always feels like home to me!”
“I love the library because there is something for everyone. Whether it be programs, events, classes, books, music, crafts, etc. Everyone can find joy in something at the library,” says Gray. Sluck says, “I have met so many people and made so many friends as a result of working at our library.” Wagoner says, “From babies to seniors, Houston Public Library has a free program for everyone. What’s not to love?”
Silver says her favorite part of the library is its Innovation Station, a makerspace where she can spend time with her kids: “We get to create on 3D printers, doodle pens, the Cricut, iMacs and so much more!” Lantz says, “As a full-time teacher I love the library because it expands my classroom and allows me to offer the students more book choices due to the limited library we have in the school.” Wagoner says that when her daughter was growing up, the two most important experiences she could give her were reading and playing: “Through reading and play she learned to use her imagination, search for creative solutions to problem solving, do more with limited resources, and stay active mentally and physically.”
“I love the library because it provides me with all the entertainment and information I need,” says Broyles. “I’m sure I’ve saved hundreds of thousands of dollars by not purchasing books, magazines, or movies and instead, borrowing them,” says Harris. “I enjoy the revolving library available to me through my local and larger Ohio library system.”
Justice agrees about that availability: “Foremost, to me the library is about access to information.” Her mother taught her to read when she was 3 years old, and she has dedicated her career to spreading literacy. “It is so important for the library to be a community center that offers self-education and enrichment for free, to all people. Books saved my life. I grew up in a very poor, inner-city area on the outskirts of Cleveland, and it would have been easy for me to not reach out and explore possibilities” if the library wasn’t there.