Local libraries: It’s time to get your geek on

The community may soon add a new verb to their vocabulary: geek. The Valley Libraries Consortium consisting of Augusta County Library, Staunton Public Library, and Waynesboro Public Library will be participating in Geek the Library, a community‐based public awareness campaign. The campaign highlights what people are passionate about and how libraries can support them, in an effort to heighten awareness about the critical funding issues public libraries face.

Calendar 2013Geek the Library features local educational material that introduces ‘geek’ as a verb, and encourages the public to talk about what they ‘geek’—whether it’s engineering, superheroes or art. The public awareness campaign illustrates the fact that everyone is passionate about something—everyone ‘geeks’ something—and that the library supports them all.

“This campaign is designed to provoke conversation about the vital role that public libraries and librarians play in today’s challenging environment,” said Cathy De Rosa, global vice president of marketing for OCLC, a nonprofit library cooperative which led campaign development and conducted a pilot campaign from June 2009 to April 2010. “We hope it will spark important community discussions about how public libraries can remain strong.”

The awareness campaign features advertising, social networking elements, a website and grassroots community initiatives to draw attention to the need for increased library support. The campaign website, www.geekthelibrary.org, provides information about how people can get active and support their local library.

As the economic downturn slowly recovers, millions of Americans are turning to local libraries for educational opportunities, job‐searching resources and entertainment. The increased demand for library services is taking a toll on libraries already experiencing flat or decreasing budgets. And state and local cuts are impacting public library hours, programs and staffing, forcing some libraries to close indefinitely.

While most people have visited their public library and understand its important role in their community, many do not know what the challenges are for libraries or that local funding for libraries is heavily influenced by community members.

“Communities across America rely on their public library services more than ever before,” said Zahir Mahmoud, library director. “Libraries provide not only books and audio visuals but online access to government service, job searching, health information, e-government transactions and many more. Yet, funding for libraries has not kept up with increased demand and inflation.”

This public awareness campaign hopes to start a conversation about library funding to inspire more people to take personal responsibility for keeping their local public libraries vital in their communities. The campaign will not support or oppose any candidate for public office, nor attempt to influence legislation.

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