National Library Week marks the annual, week-long celebration of the secret heroes of our communities: our local libraries, librarians, and library workers. Not only do these neighborhood champions motivate us with their wide reading selections, intelligent book recommendations, and endless resources, but they also go above and beyond in unifying, uplifting, and enabling members of the community. This year’s theme, Libraries = Strong Communities, does an excellent job of highlighting this aspect.

Each year, libraries across the globe work tirelessly to host informational webinars, new technology courses, English language classes, and other transformative services, all for the sake of connecting and educating the public. Such opportunities are exclusive to no one, but are instead available to any individual with a passion for learning regardless of their racial background, sexual orientation, financial income, or personal biases. Libraries are crucial institutions that unite rather than divide, that inspire instead of discourage. They are a fundamental component of the foundation on which communities function, persevere, and succeed.

As Melinda Gates, the 2019 National Library Week Honorary Chair, eloquently states, “Libraries are one of the places that we connect as a community and they help us share our stories. They protect our stories, they pass our stories along, and it’s our stories that bind us together. I feel that libraries are the place that really open our mind . . . libraries are the place that we need to hear one another’s stories and come together and then learn and grow and flourish.”

Interested in joining the celebration? Here are 19 Ways to Celebrate National Library Week! Get started by visiting your local library today.