Libraries lead


I recently rediscovered a classic in audiobooks. I love to walk and while I walk, I listen to an eAudiobook on my phone. Mifflin County Library has in its CD collection the old radio drama “The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce; who are, in my opinion, the original and best Holmes and Watson.  

I found this classic as a digital audiobook (or eAudio) in a library I belong to and have been listening to the show again on my phone. This radio program was produced in 1948 or so, not long after the war, and the release even includes the commercials. Apparently, back then, the whole show had only one commercial! And that one company sponsored the whole show; in this case, Petri Wine.

The point of my story is, in the mid-1950s, research showed that Americans were spending less on books and more on radios, so that people could listen to shows like Sherlock Holmes. Concerned that Americans were reading less, the American Library Association and the American Book Publishers formed a nonprofit citizen’s organization called the National Book Committee in 1954. The committee’s goals were ambitious. They ranged from “encouraging people to read in their increasing leisure time” to “improving incomes and health” and “developing strong and happy family life.”

In 1957, the committee developed a plan for National Library Week based on the idea that once people were motivated to read, they would support and use libraries. With the cooperation of ALA and with help from the Advertising Council, the first National Library Week was observed in 1958 with the theme, “Wake Up and Read!”

National Library Week 2018 will mark the 60th anniversary of the first event and is observed in libraries across the country each April. All types of libraries (school, public, academic and special) participate every year in National Library Week.

National Library Week is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and library workers and to promote library use and support. From free access to books and online resources for families to public access computers for individuals without internet access, libraries offer opportunity to all.   

American Ballet Theatre Principal Dancer Misty Copeland will serve as 2018 National Library Week Honorary Chair.

National Library Week events include:

≤ School Library Month during April;

≤ On Monday, April 9, the 2017 State of America’s Libraries Report is released;

≤ Tuesday, April 10 is National Library Workers Day;

≤ Wednesday, April 11 is National Bookmobile Day;

≤ Thursday, April 12 is Take Action for Libraries Day.

National Library Week is April 8-14 and the theme this year is “Libraries Lead.” And we do lead. Libraries adapt to the changing needs of our patrons. In the 1950s, we thought that people were listening to the radio, or watching TV, and so we promoted libraries in a new way.  Now, our world is becoming more and more digital. Libraries adapt to give people digital books, digital audiobooks and online resources.

According to the Pew Research Center, the number of Americans reading or listening to books on cellphones has increased from 5 percent in 2011 to 13 percent in 2016.  If you are interested in learning more about downloading books to your cellphone or other device, please come to MCL and ask any of the staff.

But nothing will replace books. And as long as there are books, there will always be libraries.


Susan Miriello is the acting library director of the Mifflin County Library.  She is currently reading a physical book, not an eBook, “Glimpse,” by one of her favorite authors, Jonathan Maberry. This thriller explores what happens when reality and nightmares converge.