by Dwayne T. Ervin
Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. kicked off National Library Week April 12-18 by reading to children at Rainbow PUSH headquarters to support the importance of reading.
Parents and children listened as Keith Feils and Rev. Jackson read to the children. Jackson read, “We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro Baseball,” by Kadir Nelson. The passage he read was about blacks in baseball during the early 1900s who were not allowed to play with whites in Major League baseball.
The 2009 National Library Week theme is, “Worlds Connect @ Your Library.” The week of activities, include the release of the State of the America’s Libraries Report, National Library Workers Day, Top Ten of the Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2008 and the Third Annual Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) Supporting Teen Literature Day.
For Teen Literature Day, teen patients in pediatric hospitals will receive 8,000 young adult novels, audio books and novels.
According to the 2009 State of America’s Libraries report, Americans are turning to their local libraries for services, yet funding for essential resources have declined. According to the report, Americans visited libraries nearly 1.4 billion times and checked out more than 2 billion items in the past year.
Keith Michael Fiels, executive director of American Library Association (ALA) said, “People are also using libraries to find jobs and to get job training. People are finding that they can only apply for jobs online. Libraries have the help people [need] to advance their careers,” he said.
“Literacy is like a light,” said Jackson, who recalled a time when he was in a cab in Los Angeles on his way to the airport. The cab driver was very talkative, he said. “We got to a terminal and the driver kept going…we came around a second time [to the terminal.] Then it occurred to me that he could not read. It was a painful experience to see that,” Jackson said. “Reading is the key to seeing and expanding our world,” he said.