The Library: A World of Possibilities
In the United States, the American Library Association Conference is just starting. At the end of June, thousands of librarians will converge in New Orleans (my home town!) for a packed week of star keynotes (Jeff Kinney, Author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series), professional development sessions, and “The Stacks,” an exhibit hall filled with books, books, and more books. It’s the largest library conference in the U.S. and enthusiasm is high.
Ironically, both public libraries and school libraries in the U.S. face steep budget cuts with libraries being completely eliminated from the public and school sectors. These budgetary woes are affecting public and school libraries in the states of Texas, New Jersey, Florida, Ohio and many other states. Our neighbors across the pond are faring no better.
As a child, I lived and traveled all over the world as the daughter of a Navy jet engine mechanic. In my upper elementary years, I lived in Rota, Spain. There, the school library served as my connection to home and opened up a whole new world for me. I entered the wacky worlds of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, Dorrie the Witch, and I discovered my favorite author of all time… Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). I became a voracious reader, which is still evident with one look at my nightstand and my office bookshelves.
The library inspired me with its collection of 398.2 (folk and fairy tales) and inspired me to become a writer. I worked as a volunteer storyteller for my local library and have written numerous books published by Libraries Unlimited. Even my latest children’s book is library-inspired: There’s a Dragon in the Library. My ten year old daughter just joined our local library’s summer reading program.
Libraries are magical places that inspire kids to read. They are community hubs, information centers, study halls, meeting places, story time theaters, craft centers, and most importantly, gigantic bookshelves! Show me a literate society and I’ll show you public access to libraries. Don’t close the doors to our world’s libraries. Save our libraries and open up a world of possibilities.
Dianne de Las Casas is an award-winning author and storyteller who tours internationally presenting programs, educator/librarian training, workshops, and artist residencies. Her performances, dubbed “revved-up storytelling” are full of energetic audience participation. She has written 18 books, which include books for children, and professional books for librarians and educators. Her latest children’s book is There’s a Dragon in the Library. Visit her website at www.storyconnection.net, follow her on twitter @storyconnection, and fan her on Facebook www.facebook.com/fanofdianne