GBF Panel: The Importance of Libraries: Now and In the Future
May 7, 2016
by Gene Taft
If you’re an avid reader, chances are you have fond memories of visiting a library at some point in your life. I remember rushing home from elementary school one day and being beside myself with excitement recounting to my mother how I had discovered the school library and spent all of recess in there. Yes, I was, and still am, a book nerd.
On Saturday, May 21st at 11:15am at the Gaithersburg Book Festival (and live on C-SPAN2’s Book TV), I will have the privilege of moderating a panel discussion about “The Importance of Libraries: Now and in the Future.” Our discussion will be wide ranging and informative, touching on everything from how books are acquired to what the future holds for libraries.
Joining me on this panel will be several industry leaders from the library world:
- Becky Brasington Clark is director of the Library of Congress Publishing Office (LCPO), which collaborates with private-sector partners to publish books, calendars, and other consumer products based on the Library’s collections. Before joining the Library she spent 12 years as director of marketing for the Johns Hopkins University Press and held similar positions at the Brookings Institution Press, the New Republic, Counterpoint Press, and Moon Travel Handbooks.
- Kiera Parrott is Reviews Director for Library Journal and School Library Journal. She is the former head of children’s services at the Darien (CT) Library and also worked at the New York Public Library.
- Emily Sheketoff is the Executive Director of the Washington Office of the American Library Association, where he has been for the past 17 years. She has also worked for the Department of Labor, as a broadcast producer and in the Carter White house.
- Mary Ellen Icaza is the Virtual Services Manager for Montgomery County Public Libraries in Rockville, Maryland. She manages the library system’s web and social media presence, as well as the library system’s Intranet. Mary Ellen has over 14 years of experience working in public libraries in the areas of reference, collection development, and online services.
Libraries are the great equalizer.
The library can and should be anything and everything to everyone, children and adults alike. The library is the gateway to learning and bettering yourself. At the library, you can expand your mind and your horizons. At the library, the playing field is equal for all who come in and partake of its resources. The library is blind to race, sex and religion, not because it chooses one or the other but because it embraces all of them. The library knows no social or political boundaries. The library is there for the rich and the poor and everyone in between.
The Library is not always what you think it is.
When most people think of the library, they think of book-lined shelves almost as far as the eye can see. But the library is much more than that. The library offers physical and virtual access to an assortment of treats, not just books. You can learn and do so much at a library these days, with access to books, computers, classes, community gatherings and let’s not forget the wonderful librarians. Through all the resources a library provides, a child can go hear a story read to them, write a book report, travel to far off lands in his or her head by reading a book or learn all kinds of other wonderful things. An adult may got to the library to read a book, write a book, use the computer to apply for a job or further their formal or informal education.
This is a small sample of the topics we will touch on in our May 21st panel discussion:
2) The Librarian of Congress
3) What goes into building a collection
4) The Library of Congress – America’s Library
5) The future of the library
6) What can you do to help your local library?
What is most important about libraries now, and in the future? That answer will vary from person to person, but libraries must continue to exist and to thrive, because every day a library is open is a day a new person, young or old, can experience the joys of the library for the first time. We must not take our libraries for granted. We must recognize and embrace the importance of all libraries. Libraries are a great part of our freedom and they are uniquely democratic spaces, open and welcoming to all.
The library is a wonderful place, magic and practical at the same time.