By Matt de Simone
Botetourt County Libraries celebrated National Library Week by offering “Coffee Connections” that brought in staff members of Botetourt County in public safety, recreation, administration, and other departments. Residents had a chance to grab a cup of joe and chat with some of the community’s leaders and friends.
Botetourt County Commonwealth’s Attorney John Alexander, Parks & Rec Director Mandy Adkins, Sheriff Matt Ward, Board of Supervisors Buchanan District representative Amy White, and Fire & EMS Chief Jason Ferguson took time out of their week to meet and speak with members of the community throughout the week.
“The event went great at all of our locations,” Eagle Rock Branch Manager Jaime Duval recently said when asked about last week. “Each day, we saw new faces coming to chat with our guests. Some of the patrons took the opportunity to go to each branch, explore the different collections, and meet the staff. There were a few cancellations due to illness, but we will reschedule for a later date. Overall, we got great feedback from our guests and patrons and are looking forward to scheduling more connection sessions in the future.”
The American Library Association (ALA) kicked off National Library Week with the release of its State of America’s Libraries Report, highlighting the challenges U.S. libraries faced in the second year of the pandemic and how they innovated to meet the needs of their communities.
First sponsored in 1958, the ALA sponsored National Library Week and observed in libraries across the country each April. All types of libraries– school, public, academic and special– participate.
In the mid-1950s, research showed that Americans were spending less on books and more on radios, televisions, and musical instruments. Concerned that Americans were reading less, the ALA and the American Book Publishers formed a nonprofit citizens organization called the National Book Committee in 1954. The committee’s goals were ambitious.
With the cooperation of ALA and with help from the Advertising Council, the first National Library Week was observed in 1958 with the theme “Wake Up and Read!”
Multiple Emmy-nominated and Spirit Award-winning actress, comedian, and legendary Saturday Night Live cast member Molly Shannon celebrated libraries as the honorary chair of National Library Week.
“What struck me most about the conversations last week was the feeling of community,” Buchanan Branch Manager Cheryl Wagner said about last week’s event. “The event brought home the idea that libraries are community spaces for all people. Sure, we love our books but we also love providing access to information and being a part of the exchange of ideas. Mandy, Amy, and Matt seemed to really enjoy the opportunity and I know the people that stopped by did.”
“Everything went great,” Fincastle Branch Manager Sarah Rodgers added. “We have a couple of displays where we’ve gotten information about what libraries do and what we do for the community, so there’s been good interaction with those.”
National Library Week presented Botetourt Libraries with a chance to welcome the community back moving forward from the pandemic closures throughout 2020-21. Libraries developed new ways to engage with the community during that time, presenting curbside service, mobile printing, virtual visits, and other services to meet the needs of the public better.
Rodgers believes all of the new services Botetourt Libraries created during the pandemic will stick around for the near future. “(These new services) are features that will stay in libraries as we move forward, and it will kind of just evolve from there,” Rodgers explained.
For more information about upcoming events from Botetourt County Libraries, visit their website at www.botetourtva.gov/161/Libraries.