On Wednesday July 4th we will celebrate America’s birthday. Some of my earliest memories are the flags flying on front porches and the smell of hot dogs and hamburgers sizzling on backyard grills. The traditions continue today with fireworks, great food, and fun with friends and family. Some people have even switched from imported to American beer in honor of this national holiday. This year I’d like to suggest a new tradition- how about celebrating the freedom of this great nation by showing your freedom to read?
It’s not so far-fetched when you think about it. The Founding Fathers of this country were well-educated people who knew the importance of books, libraries and reading. For example, Benjamin Franklin is among the most unique of our statesmen. His work as a writer, printer and publisher is obviously tied very closely to the mission of libraries.
In 1800 legislation was signed by President John Adams that provided not only for the transfer of the seat of government from Philadelphia to the new capital city of Washington, but also for the establishment of a reference library for Congress only, containing “such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress – and for putting up a suitable apartment for containing them therein….” The original library was housed in the new Capitol until August 1814, when invading British troops set fire to the Capitol Building, burning and pillaging the contents of the small library. In 1815, the government, knowing that the Congress of that time and its successors would need access to information, accepted Thomas Jefferson’s offer of his personal library of 6,487 books as a replacement and it became the core around which the Library of Congress was formed.
In order to help you continue the celebration, the Library is offering two reading programs for patrons this summer. We are continuing our popular summer reading program for children, this year’s theme is “Dream Big. READ!” New this year is our first annual adult summer reading program. This year’s theme is “Between the Covers.” Each week we will have a variety of special events at our branches so make sure you check our calendar.
I hope you enjoy your holiday but I would like to ask one last thing. During your party stop for a moment and reflect on the true meaning of what July 4th symbolizes. Ours is the greatest nation on earth and we have our freedom due to the sacrifice of many men and women. No fact is more worthy of our celebration.