If you are reading to this report, odds are that at least one library – in your school, your neighborhood or maybe the big formal downtown library – has been a big part of your life. Perhaps the message of comedienne Paula Poundstone also describes your experience:

There I was in another unbalanced relationship. I could borrow anything I wanted from my library unless it was in the reference section or nailed down. And what was I giving back? It was unhealthy.

Well, as it happens, October 19-25 is National Friends of Libraries week. So this is a great time to re-evaluate your relationship with your library.

The American Association of School Libraries points out that Friends groups have an important role to play in school libraries as well as in general public libraries. They note that the school library has changed a great deal over the years, particularly in the past decade, and that community members may believe school libraries have been replaced by the Internet. But this is far from the truth.

And research has shown, time and again, that libraries and librarians play essential roles in opening young minds to new worlds and in helping develop critical thinkers as well as pointing the way to resources for that science project. See, for example, “School Libraries and Achievement” from the Library Research Service.

If you’re not familiar with what goes on in your local school library, National Friends of Libraries Week is a call to arrange to stop by and find out.

Ask school librarians what is needed in terms of advocacy and volunteers. And if you discover that your locality has cut funds for library staff and materials, now would be a good time to join with your neighbors in insisting that local students have the resources they need to thrive.

Paula Poundstone decided to re-balance her take-take-take relationship with her library by joining Friends of the Library. Maybe it’s time we all did the same:

Think about all that libraries have meant in your life.

Find out if school libraries near you have all they need – and please be aware that many charter schools, including Rocketship Education which plans to open a very expensive new facility down the road here in DC, do not provide school libraries at all.

Join – or, if necessary, help to form – a Friends group for your school library.

Then report back to the Education Town Hall so we can all learn from one another what is working and not working in school libraries around the country.

The American Library Association and the American Association of School Librarians offer support for library advocates. Individuals as well as groups can join United for Libraries, the national Friends alliance.