National Librarian Day on April 16 is a chance to be thankful for all the knowledge that librarians possess. You may think of them as book-slingers who spend all day cataloging and reshelving, but librarians play a much more important role. From children’s storytime to literacy classes, libraries offer a wealth of free public resources.
Trained in Library Science, professional librarians work with complex cataloging systems to organize books, make purchasing decisions for their library, liaise with local schools and universities, organize events and programming, teach classes, and more. Their role is constantly evolving to adapt to new technology and social needs. Celebrate National Librarian Day with us and say thanks to the awesome librarians that are always on hand to help.
History of National Librarian Day
Stereotyped in pop culture as bespectacled older ladies who constantly shush their teen patrons, librarians are dedicated professionals who perform a variety of tasks to keep libraries running, organize programming, and update their collections.
The first large libraries in the U.S. were mostly privately owned and required entry fees or paid memberships to gain access. The concept of free public libraries took hold by the late 1800s. In the early 20th century, after Melvil Dewey standardized library cataloging with his Dewey Decimal System and other practices, public libraries rapidly expanded with thousands of new branches across the country. By 1900, the scope of libraries also expanded, with many offering reference departments and interlibrary loans. During the Great Depression, libraries served as a lifeline for struggling families seeking a cozy refuge and free entertainment.
Today, libraries function as so much more than repositories of knowledge. To keep up with changing technology, library offerings now include audiobooks, e-reader materials, free computer skills classes, and access to free online resources. Many public libraries offer language and citizenship classes, access to useful tools, technology like 3D printers and computers, and free workshops on a variety of hobbies and life skills. They provide a quiet shelter during hot or rainy days at no cost, and they serve as a safe, welcoming hangout for children and teens.
National Librarian Day timeline
Carnegie Builds Libraries
Steel magnate Andrew Carnegie funds the building of over 2,500 public and academic libraries worldwide, with 1,800 in the United States.
First U.S. Public Library
Benjamin Franklin donates a collection of books to the town of Franklin, Massachusetts, starting the nation's first public library.
Public Libraries Appear
After the introduction of paper and printing in the Middle East, public libraries began to appear in Islamic cities.
- 300 B.C
Library of Alexandria Founded
One of the most significant stores of knowledge in the ancient world, the Library at Alexandria in Egypt housed tens of thousands of scrolls. Although modern myth claims it was destroyed in one massive fire, the library actually declined over time.
National Librarian Day FAQs
Is there a National Librarian Day?
Yes, National Librarian Day is observed on April 16.
What degrees does a librarian have?
Most librarians have a Master’s Degree in Library Science.
What else can I do at my local library?
Local libraries are hubs of learning and socializing that house so much more than books. At most libraries, you can access many other free services including internet access, language learning classes, skill-sharing, music and video streaming, and legal advice.
National Librarian Day Activities
Visit your local library
When’s the last time you went to the library? Many public libraries are located in beautiful historic buildings. Find yours today.
Thank a librarian
Thank your local librarian for their service and let them know it’s appreciated.
Donate some books to a library
Ask your local library if they’re looking for any specific donations. Check your shelves or buy a couple of new books to donate to their collection.
5 Fascinating Facts About Libraries
Public libraries serve more customers than movie theaters
In 2019, the average American adult took 10.5 trips to the public library and only five to a movie theater.
World’s largest library
The U.S. Library of Congress is the world's largest library, housing 168 million items.
Not always quiet
Contrary to the belief that all libraries require silence, the Tikkurila Library in Vantaa, Finland is equipped with a (soundproof) karaoke room.
Check out your next look
To help residents who are looking for work, the New York Public Library lets members check out ties, briefcases, and other accessories to spruce up their outfit for a job interview.
More libraries than McDonald’s
There are more than 16,000 public central libraries and branch libraries in the U.S.—that’s more than McDonald’s locations!
Why We Love National Librarian Day
It’s a great excuse to read
Have you been putting off finishing that novel? Is there a new book you’re itching to read? Set some time aside today for uninterrupted reading.
It celebrates unsung heroes
Librarians fulfill many important social functions, but we don’t often recognize the breadth of their service.
It highlights public services
Public libraries are a crucial service in an increasingly privatized world. National Librarian Day celebrates these public spaces that contribute to the overall well-being of society.
National Librarian Day dates