submitted by Tracey Reed, Warminster Library Director
As I write this, it’s National Library Week, and, more specifically, National Library Worker’s Day.
During this week, we celebrate libraries, library workers, and all of the things libraries bring to our users and the community.
It’s also a day to think about the history of libraries and how they’ve changed over the years.
In the Middle Ages, when the majority of books were found in monasteries, many were chained to shelves, tables or lecterns*.
Books were elaborately decorated, both on the page ends and inside. Spine decoration, and (much) later spine titles, was unusual.
Books and manuscripts weren’t on shelves, upright and easy to identify – they were laid flat, with pages facing out and spines toward the back. After Gutenberg’s press made books less costly and less scarce, storage on shelving increased and fewer items needed to be chained.
Spine identification became more commonplace. Moving forward several centuries, there are more public libraries in the United States than McDonald’s restaurants.
And those libraries are offering so much more than easily identifiable books.
Libraries are cornerstones of the communities they serve. We are places of learning, of entertainment, of “edutainment.”
In times of calm, libraries are places to gather and meet people in the community.
In times of crisis, libraries become places to file for aid, charge electronic devices, get warm, get dry.
New Orleans after Katrina, New York after 9/11, Houston after Harvey, Ferguson and Baltimore after riots.
In all those cases, the libraries stayed open for their communities. Current Librarian of Congress Carla Haden said it best: “It’s just part of the tradition of public libraries in America, being here in good [times] and bad.”**
So much about libraries has changed. But at our core, we’re still the same. We exist for our users’ needs.
Today and every day, we thank YOU, our users, for making us an essential part of the community.
It’s your library; I’m just lucky enough to work here.
For a complete list of library programs, please visit our website: warminstertownship.org/calendar-of-events/.