CU community celebrates National Library Week


Mark Capapas

Students study for finals on the second floor of Grainger Library on May 6, 2019. The Champaign-Urbana community celebrates National Library Week with increased activities and events.

By Amrita Bhattacharyya, News Editor

Local libraries in Champaign-Urbana are celebrating National Library Week through special events and increased activities.
First sponsored by the American Library Association in 1958, National Library Week occurs annually in April, with libraries across the country promoting library use and support.
To celebrate, the Urbana Free Library has had multiple events throughout this week, including virtual storytimes and a raffle for a Roku Express giveaway. The Urbana Free Library is also hosting a virtual escape room titled “The Library Case of Characters” on their Facebook page, which had close to 700 hits as of Tuesday.
“We’ve done those digital escape rooms before, and they’ve been really popular,” said Amanda Standerfer, director of development and promotion at the Urbana Free Library.
For the Urbana Free Library, the activities don’t look too different than they would have in years past.
“We’re doing quite a bit that we would normally do … I would say just the difference is that we can’t be together to celebrate with people,” Standerfer said.
The Champaign Public Library also has an array of events throughout the week, including virtual storytimes which are archived on their Facebook page. On Wednesday, local poet Jim O’Brien hosted a writers workshop and taught a course called “Poems from Prompts.”
“You never know the impact of one event, one author visit,” said Evelyn Shapiro, promotions manager for the Champaign Public Library. “That just has repercussions and impact for years to come.”
On Thursday, the Champaign Public Library has an interactive business roundtable webinar titled “Increase Your Reach.” Current and aspiring business owners can brainstorm ideas and talk about marketing strategies.
According to Shapiro, events for this week look very different compared to years past due to COVID-19.
“In a normal year, we’ll have 40 events going on in one week,” Shapiro said. “Live music in the lobby, we’ll have workshops every afternoon, we’ll have 300 kids come over from Edison, middle schoolers in the library every day.”
However, Shapiro says community members have been embracing the various virtual activities offered this year.
“This is a community that treasures libraries,” Shapiro said. “They’ll come to the doors of the library, and they know we have safe practices and we’re a welcoming place. There’s gonna be a smile behind the mask of everybody that works there.”
Standerfer says libraries are important institutions in communities that welcome everyone and help people learn new things.
“I think libraries are more important than ever to help us connect with other people, to connect to information that we need,” Standerfer said. “Libraries are kind of the cornerstone of democracy.”

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