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The Daily Tar Heel

Local libraries celebrate National Library Week

Local bookworms have been swiping their library cards even more than usual during this year’s celebration of National Library Week.

Nearby libraries are sponsoring events from April 8 to 14 as part of the American Library Association’s annual celebration.

On the event’s first day, staff at the Orange County Public Library saw an estimated 42 percent increase in traffic compared to Monday a week ago.

“The National Library Week gives the library an opportunity to stand out, and it gives the community a reason to recognize the role of the library in the county” said Jessica Arnold, adult programming coordinator of the Orange County Public Library.

The Orange County Public Library is running a Facebook campaign, and people who like the library’s page are eligible for a $100 Visa gift card. The winner will be chosen on April 14.

Martha Brunstein, president of the Friends of the Chapel Hill Public Library, said in an email that she expects the library to have about the same number of visitors this week — but this year, that number is already high.

“The Chapel Hill library is so heavily used every day, that every week in Chapel Hill is Library Week,” she said in an email.

The Chapel Hill Public Library, which has moved to a temporary location in University Mall while the original site is expanded, has the highest per capita use in North Carolina. About 1,000 residents visit the library each day, and they borrow about 3,000 books or other materials.

“The annual visitors to the library would fill the Dean Dome more than 17 times,” Brunstein said in an email.

In addition to helping users borrow materials, the Chapel Hill Public Library provided 71,800 computer sessions, answered 86,180 reference questions and enrolled nearly 2,000 children in summer reading programs last year.

This week the library is also hosting events to highlight its service to the community — including free social networking classes for adults, toddler story times, mini Olympic games and junior book clubs for children — and many will continue even after the week’s end.

Next week Chapel Hill resident and internationally known author Jeffery Deaver, who wrote the latest James Bond book, will speak at an afternoon tea on April 16 at Deep Dish Theater next to the library in University Mall.

The Friends of the Chapel Hill Public Library will also host an appreciation night for library staff, volunteers and donors at the theater.

Brunstein said these events acknowledge the library’s value to the community.

“It is critically important to recognize libraries because libraries are a great intellectual equalizer,” she said.

Anne Pusey, librarian at the Carrboro Branch Library, agreed.

“We need to publicize the importance of libraries in the community — some don’t necessarily know that it’s available to them — who we are and what we do,” she said.

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