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By San Juan Capistrano Library Staff and the Friends of the Library

Did you know that April is National Soft Pretzel Month? It’s also National Garden Month, National Poetry Month, National Jazz Appreciation Month and National Humor Month, just to name a few.

April is also an important month for libraries. In fact, this year National Library Week is being celebrated April 9-15.

As a way to acknowledge the contributions of libraries across the country and to honor the dedication of librarians, the American Library Association (ALA) has been involved in sponsoring the national observance of Library Week since 1958.

By 1951, the number of television sets in use in this country had risen to approximately 12 million, and by 1955, half of all homes in the U.S. had one. And as Americans spent more time watching TV and less on reading, the ALA helped form a nonprofit organization called the National Book Committee. Focusing on efforts to encourage people to read and to support the use of libraries, the committee developed the idea for National Library Week.

Today, we see a similar trend of ever increasing screen time as electronic devices monopolize larger amounts of our days. Video games, texting, binge-watching and “tweeting” are now common. It is, therefore, even more vital to foster reading and include visits to school and local libraries in our busy schedules.

Since it’s become clear that physical books aren’t as popular as they once were, libraries have been evolving in an effort to remain relevant and inviting. No longer merely book repositories, they are becoming centers for culture and community, and this year’s Library Week theme, “Libraries Transform,” is a confirmation of this endeavor. Although books remain a fundamental reason why people visit libraries, there are other library offerings that attract visitors and keep them coming.

One of the many programs offered by our own San Juan Capistrano Library is a free lecture series organized and run by library assistant Lori Artzner. These archaeological lectures focus on a variety of regions around the world. You can learn about nearby Luiseño Native Americans or faraway Jerusalem, all in the comfort of the library’s fireplace room. Lectures are given the first Tuesday of the month at 5:30 pm. The next one will be held on May 2 and is titled, “Phoenician Dor (En Dor) and Shikmona.”

The library is also proud to announce the arrival of an exclusive art exhibit featuring the talents of students from San Juan Hills High School. According to library manager Ericka Reeb, this showing represents the library’s participation in the Arts Orange County & Orange County Department of Education’s 2017 Imagination Celebration: The Power of Possibility. She invites all to view the impressive artistic talents of our local high school students, which will be displayed in the library’s main gallery. But don’t wait too long! This exhibit has a limited viewing time from Saturday, April 15 to Sunday, May 28.

While encouraging reading and promoting literacy continues to be a major goal, a library’s ultimate objective is to serve its community. Whether it’s for entertainment or education, creative librarians are always looking for ways to connect the library to the community.

The staff at the San Juan Capistrano Library invites the community to visit and learn about the broad range of services, programs and activities they offer. They are glad to answer questions and listen to suggestions. And maybe, by simply being in a place of books, you might be inspired to take one or two good reads home with you.

The “Branching Out” column is a collaboration between San Juan Capistrano library staff and the Friends of the Library, a nonprofit that supports the library and its programs by raising funds through its on-site bookstore and special events. For more information on the library, visit or follow @SJCFriends on Facebook.

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