CoCo Celebrates National Friends of Libraries Week

21 Oct CoCo Celebrates National Friends of Libraries Week

National Friends of Libraries Week highlights groups that support libraries across the country and promoted by the American Library Association since 2005. These Friends groups encourage and raise awareness regarding library services within communities across the nation. Recognized in the third week of October, the observance allows libraries to highlight their membership opportunities, goals, and projects.

These Friends groups help support local libraries in various ways, including serving as volunteer organizations to raise money for libraries and bringing libraries to communities that need them. Not only do Friends of Libraries support local libraries, but they also contribute to cultivating academic and scientific libraries. 

This week CoCo elevates Miriam Matthews, the first credentialed African American librarian to be hired by the Los Angeles Public Library in 1927. Serving for 12 years as the regional librarian for LAPL (Los Angeles Public Libraries), Matthews discovered earlier on in her career how few resources our libraries provided users about Black history. She was eventually led to advocate for “Negro History Week,” first observed in 1931. As a regional librarian for LAPL (1949 -1960), she supervised twelve branch libraries in the South Central region. Matthews was finally recognized for her work in 2004 by the Los Angeles Historical Society, which renamed the Hyde Park branch of LAPL after her. She is also acknowledged in the California Library Hall of Fame.

Organizing around LAPLs can also be seen through the work of another prominent librarian, Elizabeth Martinez. Co-founder of REFORMA, Martinez’s organizing efforts throughout her career helped establish the organization that advocated for the library needs of Spanish speakers. As an East Los Angeles librarian during the 1970s, she participated in the Chicano Moratorium by marching with a library organization to protest the disproportionate number of Mexican-Americans that died in the Vietnam War. She said she and her colleagues sought shelter in the nearest public library after police tear-gassed the crowd.

In 1976, Martinez established the Chicano Resource Center at the East Los Angeles Library, one of four Los Angeles County Library ethnic resource centers. She then led the Orange County Library System and the Los Angeles Public Library system and became executive director of the American Library Association.

The work of the Friends Groups through the library is complementary to educational organizing efforts that take place here in South LA. Through the lens of CoCo, South LA libraries play a pivotal role in the work of our organizers because these institutions are the cornerstone of access and education in our community. Anyone can apply for a library card.

As CoCo organizers, being able to make a difference in our community begins with knowing our history. The libraries across South LA serve as resources for us to educate ourselves on the history of South LA that reveals how we have arrived at the issue we currently face in our communities. They also house the literature that describes the organizing efforts of prominent figures in our community. Considering CoCo’s third pillar of the people’s platform, Building Thriving Communities, it is essential to acknowledge our South LA libraries and work to sustain their presence in proximity to our communities. 

This week we elevate our libraries here in South LA:

Vermont Square Branch Library

Southern California Library

View Park Bebe Moore Campbell Library

Woodcrest Library

Vernon – Leon H Washington Jr

Visit your local library and learn more about how you can volunteer, get involved in programs offered through library Friends Groups, and even become a member and friend. For more information on how to become a member and friend of your public library, visit the National Friends of Libraries Week Award page.

No Comments

Post A Comment