National Library Week: 66 Years and Counting

This year National Library Week will run from April 7th through April 13th 2024. For sixty-six years, National Library Week shines a spotlight on the importance of literacy and the value of libraries and library professions.

Prior to 1958, library celebrations were a bit of an ad hoc affair.  Held on various dates with local objectives, and no overarching theme it can still be assumed all library weeks had the ultimate goal of luring in new patrons to see what wonders could be found in the library.

In 1957, the American Library Association and the National Book Committee Inc. (now defunct) joined forces to promote libraries on a national level. The result was the first National Library Week March 16-22 1958.

The national response was robust. President Eisenhower signed a proclamation endorsing National Library week. Former presidents Hoover and Truman issued a joint statement in support of the development. “…the right to think means the right to read – anything written anywhere by any man at any time.” This statement supported the 1958 theme for the celebration, “for a better read, better informed America.”

The Augusta Library used the week to encourage the return of missing items by declaring a “Fines Forgotten Week” as part of their National Library Week observance. This effort to recover over 4,000 missing books could only add to the items available to the public. The Augusta Friends of the Library used the occasion to focus on a membership drive to enable it to “promote the welfare and growth of the library as a cultural and [re]search center”.

Sixty-six years later, the goals of this year’s National Library Week continue to expand on its first theme. The 66th theme, Ready, Set, Library, illustrates “that in our always-online world, libraries give a green light to something truly special, a place to connect with others, learn new skills, and focus on what matters most.”

National Library Week 1959 poster, found in Record Series 18/1/56, Box 29, Folder: “National Library Week, 1955-1959” see

Here in the Georgia Room, we hope we are this green light to something truly special by connecting Augusta with its rich past. One past we are naturally interested in is the history of our own library.

MS 179 Young Men’s Library Association (YMLA) History is a collection of materials which documents the Young Men’s Library Association established in 1848. This organization has long been considered a precursor our own Augusta-Richmond County Library. The papers contain, among other documents copies of the rules and regulation of the YMLA and later revisions. The connection between the libraries is represented by a Memorandum of Agreement between the Trustees of the Academy of Richmond County and the YMLA, dated 11 July 1933, for the continuance of a lease established on 28 July 1928, granting Augusta Library’s tenancy of the Old Richmond Academy building. This building was used by the Augusta Library until the headquarters removal in 1960 to what is now the Public Defender’s building on Greene Street. The move to the present headquarters occurred in 2010 to 823 Telfair St.

Another collection that documents our library history is MS 55 Augusta Public Library History.  The material consists of reports, newsletters, photographs, booklets, and scrapbooks documenting the history of the Augusta-Richmond County Library System. In this collection, we gain some perspective as we watch our predecessors deal with many of the challenges we face today. This collection is especially rich in material documenting one of our longest running programs The Appleby Concert Series, but almost anything can spark associations: pictures of past staff or old buildings, snippets of summer reading programs past or a ten-year-old newsletter.

So celebrate your Augusta-Richmond County Libraries by paying a visit to your local branch during National Library Week and see what wonderous things, both print and digital, you can discover there.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.