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National Library Week

Originally published in the Ketchikan Daily News, April 2021; written by Pat Tully

Today is the last day of National Library Week, an annual celebration of America’s libraries. And we have a lot of libraries to celebrate here in Ketchikan! There is the Ketchikan Public Library, but there is also a library in each elementary school and at Kayhi. The University of Alaska Southeast Ketchikan Campus Library has a collection of scholarly books and other research materials that are accessible in print or online, and it is open to the public.

The Public Library’s Outreach Services has several Book Shares across the island, which are essentially small collections that you can use on the honor system. Take a book you would like to read and when you are finished, bring it back and select another book.

If you love steampunk as well as reading, check out the Little Free Steampunk Library south of town on Roosevelt Drive. It is an eye-catching red with intricate and beautiful decorations—and of course a wonderful collection of family-friendly books to choose from.

As different as these libraries are, there are things they have in common. The most obvious, of course, is that libraries celebrate books and reading. Books, whether they are in print, electronic or audio format, tell stories that entertain and enlighten us. Through engaging characters and engrossing plots, they provide us with perspectives on people who lived long ago, or in another culture, or in other circumstances. They help us realize that we are not alone; the things we are thinking, feeling and experiencing are things that others have thought, felt and experienced. Books give us comfort and a way to escape, for a time, our worries and problems.

Libraries also give people the tools they need to research a subject, learn a new hobby, land a job or further their education. Books are great for this, and it is why our non-fiction collection is so well-used. Libraries are a great source of recipes, craft patterns, college entrance test preparation, and resume guides, to name just a few popular topics.

Libraries give people access to the news, analysis and essential documents needed to be responsible and effective citizens—to fully share in our political and civic life. This benefits not only people who use the library, but the entire community.

For all these reasons, libraries are community assets. Libraries bring people together and give them resources to learn new things, participate in our common life, and broaden their horizons. As a librarian I am happy to live in a community that recognizes and supports the mission of our many Ketchikan libraries.

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