Chautauquans can gather while sharing their favorite books parading cheerfully around on red stickers as they enjoy celebrating Library Day at Smith Memorial Library.
“Library Day is an annual celebration of the life of the library and the greater Chautauqua community,” said Library Director Scott Ekstrom. “It goes back many decades (and) is the brainchild of the Friends of Smith Memorial Library.”
Kicking off the day is a reception sponsored by the Friends from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. in the library, which Ekstrom said has turned into a “casual, continental breakfast party” over the years.
In addition to Chautauquans, librarians in the area get a special invitation to honor their work, he said. While the librarians are “geographically part of the community,” they are metaphorically part of the community, too.
“(Library Day is) also an opportunity for people to find out more about the Friends of the Library and to join them if they want to become a member,” Ekstrom said. “They raise money to support the library with special projects.”
Some of the projects over the years have included outdoor patio furniture, a printer and the accessible book-drop return.
“For folks who maybe can’t make it to the party in the morning, we pass out ‘My Favorite Book’ stickers,” Ekstrom said. “It creates conversations about literacy throughout the grounds as people see one another’s favorite books.”
It’s true, some people may just come to the library to print something or use the bathroom, but Ekstrom said libraries are so much more. They represent democracy, equal access and an “antithesis” to censorship.
Now, more than ever, libraries are “amped up,” he said, with the multitude of print, digital and physical resources.
“(Libraries are) also about people wanting to be around other people,” Ekstrom said, then noted with a smirk: “Libraries have always been a great place for introverts to be around other people without necessarily having to talk to them.”