“Paradise is a kind of library…”

Anyone who loves books loves libraries, and even though they’re worth celebrating year-round, it’s especially important now. Why? Well, for one it’s National Library Week. Ironically, we’re also in the midst of a huge round of budget cuts for libraries all over the country. Time’s growing short, but it’s not too late to let your public officials know how important libraries are to all of us! The ALA has a quick and easy way to show your support:

1. Please go to http://capwiz.com/ala/ and click on “call your senators now to support library funding.”

2. Scroll down and customize the sample email message as you see fit — remember, a brief but personal story on how your library helps your community matters the most! Change the subject heading to “please sign the Dear Appropriator letter for libraries.”

3. Enter your contact information.

4. Press “Send Message.”

5. If you would prefer to call your senators’ offices, feel free to dial the Capitol switchboard at 202.224.3121 and ask for your senator. The switchboard will transfer you to their office. If you don’t know who your senator is, visit here and type in your zip code.

6. Please ask your friends and supporters to call. We need as many individuals to contact the senators as possible so they know this is an important issue and that voters want them to support it.

We only have 72 hours to go! The deadline for these “Dear Appropriator” to be received by the Appropriations Committee is April 14, so it is important that you email or call your senators offices today, as well as encourage others to do so, and ask them to sign onto a “Dear Appropriator” letter that is circulating around the Senate. This letter will be sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee and will be asking the committee to support the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and the Improving Literacy Through School Libraries (ILTSL) program in its FY2011 budget.

If you’re in NJ, state funding is coming under the ax as well as federal funding. Take a look here for ways to support New Jersey libraries. I myself spent many happy hours in the South Brunswick Public Library and seeing it in peril is really scary.

Remember, libraries are not just good for books! They provide free internet access for those who can’t afford it at home, help people find jobs, teach students how to research, provide a safe haven for kids after school, and provide a meeting place for communities. Shelli over at Market My Words has a great list of reasons why everyone should use their public library (Reason #6: Who else is going to learn the Dewey Decimal System? You?) And be sure to check out this adorable letter from a first grader in Indiana that begins, “Dear the government, I don’t like that you’re firing our school librarians.”

I leave you with this quote from the oh-so-wise Lemony Snicket:
“A library is like an island in the middle of a vast sea of ignorance, particularly if the library is very tall and the surrounding area has been flooded.”

If anyone knows of any other ways to support libraries, post them here in the comments and I’ll update!

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