How many books does it take to create a library? Dozens, if not hundreds. How many librarians does it take to start an international movement? Just two, if they have the help of the right author-illustrator, that is. How many future library lovers can be cultivated through their efforts? Countless.
Created by librarians Nadine Lipman (Waterford Public Library, CT, retired) and Caitlin Augusta (Stratford Library, CT) with children’s book author and illustrator Nancy Elizabeth Wallace, the Take Your Child to the Library Day (TYCLD) campaign, happening on February 6 this year, raises community awareness about the importance of the library in the life of a child, and promotes library services for families.
What began five years ago as a small statewide initiative now has endorsements from large national organizations focused on early learning and children: The Association of Library Service for Children (ALSC), Reach Out and Read, and Read to Grow. Participation in Connecticut, where the initiative first began, was 95% last year.
How to participate
The beauty of the campaign is in its flexibility. You can do whatever you want, in essence, to celebrate the day. Special events, guest performers or authors, a designated story time, a craft project, a scavenger hunt—anything goes, as long as it encourages people to take their child(ren) to the library! The site has programming ideas, marketing campaigns, customizable templates for bookmarks and brochures, through a partnership with Upstart, stickers, bookmarks, posters, bags, and library card holders featuring the official logo and Wallace’s adorable artwork. A blog, Facebook page, and Pinterest board make it even easier to create an event for a library of any size.
Even the day you choose to mark the campaign is flexible. While the official date this year is February
6th, TYCLD encourages libraries to choose any day during February to celebrate and market the event that makes it easiest to tie the initiative into existing programs and services.
Reap the rewards
In this world of smart phones, drones, and digital services, youth librarians are embracing not only the future but nostalgia as well, with “back to the basics” patron-focused services like this. TYCLD is a perfect example of how powerful a small change can be to the sustainability of youth librarianship. The strength of the day is two-fold: it promotes getting patrons (especially the attractive “non-user”) in our doors, and it allows us to showcase all we have to offer in an era of sustainability.
In the Mothering.com article “Want to Raise Well-Rounded Kids? Take Them to the Library”, author Amanda Jette Knox states, “By taking your child to the library, you’re not only raising an eco-conscious child, but setting a good example of eco-conscious living.” Libraries have existed for years on the foundation of shared resources. TYCLD marries that level of sustainability with a broader one of creating life-long library users. “It’s an initiative that markets the library in the community, and children’s librarians finally have their chance to be advocates in a way that is organic and feels natural to them,” said co-creator Caitlin Augusta in a 2014 SLJ article. “We’re a modest bunch, but welcoming people to the library is what we do, so this day is a perfect match. Everyone knows that the library is a crucial partner in the educational, social, and emotional development of children; we just need to remind people what we have to offer.” One book, and one day, and one child at a time.