Library staff reflect on National Library Week events

Christy Howland / THE GATEPOST

The Henry Whittemore Library held a series of events for National Library Week from April 4 to April 8. This year’s theme encouraged communities to connect with their libraries. 

National Library Week, usually the second week of April, is celebrated nationwide in support of libraries every year. This week is a celebration of the services libraries provide to their communities beyond books, according to Kathleen Barnard, student engagement coordinator. 

Millie González, dean of the library, said, “The mission of National Library Week is to celebrate libraries, the patrons that frequent our libraries, and the people that work in the libraries.”

González was appointed as dean of the Henry Whittemore Library this month. She has been working in the library at FSU since 2006.

She said the events of library week were geared toward student engagement. “April is an extremely busy time for students,” she said. “We don’t want it to be event heavy. We want it to be light, enjoyable – not intrusive.” 

With that in mind, the staff decided to begin the week by handing out cake to students and staff who entered the library. On Thursday, the library also hosted its annual cake decorating contest.

“It was just really sweet seeing students pass by and giving them slices of cake and things like that. We’re very thankful, even though they’re really very busy,” she said. 

González said her favorite event from the week was when the children from the Child Development Lab on campus visited the library. They were read to by Samatha Westall, one of the curriculum librarians. 

“Seeing the little kids come up the stairs and up to the curriculum library – just sitting there and listening to Sam read a book … the fact that we’re promoting literacy at such a young age, and the students had a really great time – for me, that was just really special,” she said. 

González explained library week was to show the important role libraries play within their communities. The week was used to honor and thank the library staff who work to support the campus community.

“It’s nice to celebrate at least for a week once a year,” she said. 

González said she enjoyed interacting with students as they passed through the library and giving back to the campus community. 

“I love National Library Week because it’s always really cool things – really engaging surroundings,” González said. 

Sandra Rothenberg, coordinator of library instruction, helped assemble this year’s art exhibition for the celebration of National Library Week, alongside contributing to some of the other events provided.

Rothenberg shared her thoughts on the role of libraries in their communities. “The library is an important place on academic campuses, and FSU in particular, so we wanted to do something to honor this and bring focus to the library.”

She said she helped to organize a staff and student centered art exhibition for the celebration this year, with the help of her coworkers Colleen Previte and Nancy Hanley. She added the exhibition was chosen this year since it hadn’t been included in recent National Library Weeks, but was included before.

“We had done an art exhibition years ago, and we hadn’t done it for a long time,” she said. “I think it was great we arrived at it. We hadn’t done that for a while, because you don’t want to do something too often. We want it to be fresh.”

Rothenberg said she hopes students recognize the library as a resource on campus for more than physical texts, such as the RAMS Renew Space, and that they are always willing to help.

“We … really encourage people to come here and take advantage of our multitudes of services, be it research help, our collections – both databases and books – our new RAMS Renew Space, which is a relaxation space,” she said.

Kathleen Barnard is the library’s student engagement coordinator. This is her first year celebrating National Library Week alongside the staff of FSU since joining the community in January.

Barnard said the preparations for the week began with a group of library staff who assess what had been done in previous years. She added the group includes a mixture of old events and new ideas to help bring attention to the role of the library during the week.

“Our cake decorating contest, for instance, was the 12th one that we’ve done,” she said. “Things like that and then just what new things were out there.”

Barnard added she hoped the students’ main take away from the events is that the library is a fun place. “I hope they see the library as both a place to study and get information, but also a place to unwind, relax – have a little bit of fun,” she said. 

She spoke about the RAMS Renew Space within the library, how it is open for students to take a break in between classes and relax. On April 6, the library welcomed Reiki Master Susan Clark to host reiki sessions for students within the renew space.  

Barnard said she was happy to bring her past experience as a librarian to FSU when planning with her coworkers, and added it was nice to be a part of the events. 

She stressed her hope for the week was to promote students engaging with the library for more than researching papers or coursework.

“Remember that we’re here to help and we’re here for you guys. The library exists for the students and to help the students just find resources, be a place to relax. Any way that we can help you guys, that’s what we’re here for,” Barnard said.