Local 1303-085 Members in Middletown Mark National Library Workers Day

The staff and administration of Russell Library in Middletown took time out April 10 to mark National Library Workers Day.

“There is no better time than National Library Workers Day to salute the contributions of our dedicated employees who make this institution a vibrant and integral part of the Middletown community,” said Russell Library Interim Director and CEO Brandie Doyle.

The second Tuesday of April every year is celebrated as National Library Workers Day, in recognition of the valuable contributions made by all library workers.

Catherine Ahern, president of the AFSCME Local 1303-085 bargaining unit that represents more than 30 Russell Library employees, echoed Doyle’s sentiments.

“We are the central gathering place for our community. Anyone, regardless of social or economic status, can walk into their local public libraries and receive the services they need,” said Ahern, who is the Director of Information Services and Adult Learning at Russell Library.

Libraries remain one of the only public institutions in the United States that require no documentation or payment from users who enter the building or use online services.

A total of 77 percent of Americans 16 and older think libraries provide them with important services they need, such as access to books and technology, free Wi-Fi and quiet spaces.

Over the past five years, public libraries have seen the number of public programs offered per capita increase by 6.3 percent while the amount of staff per capita has decreased by 1.5 percent, according to statistics presented last year by the Public Library Association.

As the dedicated staff at Russell Library would attest, with library usage increasing and the need for library services remaining high, it is more important than ever that libraries continue to receive necessary funding.

“We are advocates for the patrons,” Ahern observed. “We want to make sure our community gets the library services they need and deserve.”

The 2018 National Library Workers Day coincides with Equal Pay Day. A 2003 resolution by the American Library Association-Allied Professional Association encourages recognition of both markers when they fall on the same day.

Ahern, whose father helped start the Machinist union at the Winchester Rifle Company in New Haven, appreciates the role unions play in improving pay, benefits and conditions of employment for all workers.

AFSCME currently represents more than 25,000 library workers across the country in state, municipal and federal libraries.

“Workers need a voice on the job, and unions provide that voice,” Ahern said, adding that union representation helps ensure fair pay and equitable treatment for library workers, many of whom are female.

Thanks to Jane Billinger at AFSCME,. Significant sections of her original article on National Library Workers Day are excerpted here.