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National Library Week April 12, 2010

Posted by Megan in Non-Fiction, Thoughtful Ramblings.
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Medicine for the soul.
– Inscription over the door of the Library at Thebes

This week libraries across the country will be celebrating National Library Week. National Library Week, which began in 1958, is a way to recognize, celebrate, and honor the many ways libraries serve communities.

Libraries have existed in some form since the beginning of civilization. Archaeologists have discovered a collection of 5,000 year old clay tablets in ancient Mesopotamia and ancient Egyptian scrolls from 1300 bc. These findings and many more are a testament to mankind’s desire to seek, preserve, and share knowledge. Prior to the 4th century bc libraries were private collections, but in 300 bc The Great Library of Alexandria in Egypt was founded as a public library, though it was only open to those who possessed the proper scholarly qualifications. Public libraries have obviously changed throughout the centuries!

The oldest library in the United States began when John Harvard, a clergyman from Massachusetts donated 400 books to a new university that would eventually honor him by adopting his name. Lending libraries were established in the colonies in the 1600’s and private literary societies established subscription libraries in the 1700’s. The first public library in the United States opened in 1833, as the support for free public education increased. Libraries have a long history of evolving to meet the needs of the communities that support them. Here at our own little library, we thank you for your continuing support.

That’s a very brief glimpse at the long and rich history of libraries, and Melvil Dewey wasn’t even mentioned! I’ll try to get to him this week, he’s important to libraries. For a fun (and current) look at the life of professional librarians check out This Book is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson. You’ll find it in the nonfiction section according to its Dewey number: 020.23J. It’s pretty popular around here so you may have to wait in line!

Happy Library Week!

˜Megan

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