As part of their National Library Week celebrations through Saturday, local library systems are offering various programs and activities aimed at young readers - and pre-readers.
The annual event, developed by the American Library Association in 1958, is designed to raise awareness of and interest in libraries. This year's theme, "@ The Library," is the beginning of a national five-year campaign to highlight the library's place in the community.
J. Maurice Travillian, assistant state superintendent for libraries, said 60 percent of Maryland residents are registered library users, and 65 percent used a library last year.
"The reason we have National Library Week is to remind the other 35 percent who didn't use the library last year that the library is there, it's free and it has a lot of useful materials for them," he said.
Marcy Pride, staff specialist at the State Department of Education's Division of Library Development and Services, said the campaign is intended, in part, to broaden the public's view of the library's role. "Most people hear the word `library' and think only of books," she said. "This will begin to address the picture that people have of the library."
In Baltimore County, library officials will encourage children to get library cards and use them, said Kathy Coster, manager of marketing and programming for the county library system.
Any child who uses a juvenile library card during the week will be entered into a raffle for a $25 gift certificate from a local bookstore. Infants and toddlers who are signed up for their first library cards also can have their pictures taken next to a large replica of a library card from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday.
children's magician Magic Michael Tulkoff will visit various branches of the Enoch Pratt Free Library throughout the week.
And the Brooklyn Park Branch of the Anne Arundel County Public Library will offer "Library Challenge," an informational scavenger hunt for children ages 6 to 13, and "What's Blooming at the Library," a craft activity for children. Both programs will take place continuously through Saturday.