Celebrating National Library Workers Day on April 25

Celebrating National Library Workers Day on April 25

In celebration of National Library Workers Day (April 25th), we, the undersigned, urge Tompkins County residents to recognize the essential work done by the staff of our public libraries. Today’s public libraries are both familiar and constantly evolving. Along with books, movies, music, electronic resources, and periodicals, our libraries offer programming, computer classes, seeds for your garden, genealogy assistance, public bathrooms, space to meet, study, and play, and cozy chairs. Our libraries offer opportunities for education and entertainment, for social connection and conversation, for warmth in the winter and cool air in the summer.

Behind all these opportunities is an amazing group of people dedicated to matching the library’s resources to the needs of each individual patron. Still, library staff value privacy, freedom of thought, and independent, lifelong learning. They know that sometimes, what is most needed is space and freedom to explore. We are all free to browse the public library’s shelves willy-nilly, to sit and read every single periodical cover to cover while waiting for the bus, to just sit, without having to buy anything.

Staff in our public libraries also now must problem-solve in ways that Benjamin Franklin, the genius behind the idea of the public library, never could have imagined. Along with connecting people with the social services they need, library workers stand at the forefront of the vanguard protecting our right to consume information freely, to decide for ourselves what is relevant, interesting, or entertaining. Library workers across the country are fielding complaints, facing harassment, and enduring outright threats from those who want to restrict the public’s access to ideas they find threatening. On top of all that, they are scrambling to provide services in the face of deep cuts in funding (here in New York); in some places, they even face total defunding (Missouri).

In times like these the value of the public library—and its human face, the staff—is more apparent than ever. Library staff want to help you find the information you need, but they won’t dictate to you. Library staff respect reliable sources and don’t bow to fickle trends. Library staff offer the public resources that are both timeless and timely, with the expectation that readers can decide for themselves what to read—and what to think and believe.

Somebody once said that, if you’re making people angry, you must be doing something right. Unfortunately, that’s the position public libraries find themselves in now, simply by offering patrons materials with wide-ranging viewpoints. Although the stereotype of the librarian-introvert still proliferates, it is perhaps more accurate to envision library workers as promoters and guardians of freedom of thought. Every time you check out a book, or attend storytime, or view the art lining the library’s walls, you take part in a world crafted from ideals that are central to our national ethos. We urge everybody to take a moment this National Library Workers Day to thank library staff as they safeguard the foundations of our democracy.

Laura Larson, President, Tompkins County Public Library Foundation Board of Directors

Martha Hardesty, President, Tompkins County Public Library Board of Trustees

KC Ryan, President, Friends of the Tompkins County Public Library Board of Directors


This letter was put together by:
Kerry Barnes, Executive Director, TCPL Foundation
766 S Aurora St, Ithaca, NY 14850
607 275-1532