Celebrate National Library Week

This week (April 11-17) is National Library Week, a celebration observed every April by all types of libraries across the country since 1958.  The idea originated in the mid-1950s as radio, television and musical instruments became more popular diversions and people devoted less time to reading.  Originally conducted by “a nonprofit citizens organization called the National Book Committee,” the American Library Association took on sponsorship of NLW in 1974.  This year’s theme is “Communities thrive @ your library,” encouraging citizens to take advantage of the various resources made available at school, public, academic and special libraries. 

In honor of this week, I’m highlighting a couple state and local laws that regulate and protect our libraries.  Most of the Kentucky Revised Statues (KRS) and Lexington-Fayette County Code of Ordinances (LFUCG Code) regarding public libraries outline the funding, taxes and the library boards structure.  
The most entertaining section of LFUCG Code is conceivably Chapter 14: Offenses and Miscellaneous Provisions, which at Section 14-32 (“Library, damaging books“) so explicitly defines which damages are considered to be offenses as to satisfy the most persnickety of librarians:

  • Any person who may use the books, pamphlets, newspapers, periodicals, manuscripts and other literary property of the Lexington Public Library (…) are forbidden to mark, mutilate or, in any manner, deface or injure or destroy such property; and any books, pamphlets, newspapers, periodicals, manuscripts, or other literary property, so used or withdrawn, shall be returned to the library in as good condition as when received, unavoidable wear and tear alone excepted.

The punishment is also explained, though some book lovers may feel that here the Code is not harsh enough.  The potential penalties include denial of privileges of the library for up to one year and replacing the damaged or destroyed materials for the first offense, and a fine of up to twenty-five dollars (in addition to replacing materials) for the second or subsequent offense.

The state of Kentucky devotes an entire chapter (KRS 173) to libraries, with separate laws for first class cities and second through sixth class cities (KRS 81.010).  My favorite of these is KRS 173.380: Free use of libraries:

  • Every library established or maintained under KRS 173.300 to 173.390 shall be free for the use of the inhabitants of the governmental unit in which it is located, subject to such reasonable rules and regulations the trustees find necessary.

Free.  Cities are required to allow people to have free access to municipal resources.  Though it’s true citizens provide for this service through tax dollars and donations, libraries are one of the most accessible benefits.  I couldn’t walk into the mayor’s office and borrow his pens (at least not without an appointment), but any day of the week I can walk into one of the six branches of the Lexington Public Library and read a magazine, check out a book, volunteer, take a class, or do one of many other activities — all for free.  Who knows?  They might even let me borrow a pen.

Future National Library Weeks:

  • 2011 – April 10-16
  • 2012 – April 8-14
  • 2013 – April 14-20
This entry was posted in Did you know?, holiday, Kentucky. Bookmark the permalink.

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