Sacramento, California - Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today issued a proclamation declaring April 10 through 16, 2016, as California Library Week in the State of California.
The freedom to explore the vast body of human knowledge is one of the underpinnings of a truly free society. For this reason, the public library has been a vital institution throughout the history of our republic. Today, California's 1,112 libraries provide a multiplicity of important community functions: fostering a love of reading in people of all ages and walks of life, providing academic support to schoolchildren, teaching literacy skills to adults and serving as a safe haven and connection to social support for our most vulnerable citizens. The services our public libraries offer today are the result of many centuries of development as libraries -- always more than mere depositories of books -- have evolved and adapted to encompass new technologies and the changing needs of society.
The library as an institution is much older than the book as we think of it today, a set of printed pages bound in cloth or paper covers. Archives of written material -- at first, collections of incised clay tablets used for record-keeping by the ancient peoples of Mesopotamia -- are as old as writing itself and serve as one of the most important markers of the transition from prehistory to history. As civilization grew, so too did the body of knowledge, and along with it the number of persons with the literacy skills to use that knowledge, as well as the demand for their work --which, in turn, often added to the body of knowledge. As the need to store and access written information grew, the institutions that served this purpose grew and saw great improvements in the technology they used. By the Hellenistic period, the cosmopolitan age when the culture of Classical Greece dominated much of the Eastern Mediterranean world, the library as a collection of papyrus or parchment scrolls was a well-established part of civilized life. It was during this time, in the 3rd century B.C., that the most famous library of the ancient world was founded in Alexandria, Egypt.
The evolution of the library continued with the establishment of the first public libraries in early imperial Rome. In China, around the same time, Liu Xiang is thought to have created the first system for cataloging books, building on a library tradition dating back to the great philosopher Laozi. Even as Europe slid into the Dark Ages -- a time symbolized by the legendary destruction of the Library of Alexandria -- the Byzantine and, later, Arab civilizations would carry on the classical tradition, the latter aided by the importation of papermaking technology from China. Europe emerged from the Middle Ages with the aid of the printing press, which made books much less expensive and ushered in an era of ever-increasing literacy and public access to literature that our ancient forebears could not have dreamed of.
Today, society's need for access to knowledge continues to grow, and the technology to meet that need is changing at an unprecedented pace. For the past few decades we have been in the "Information Age," an era of extraordinary advances in our technical capacity to store and transmit information. The modern bound book, so vital to our rise to nearly universal literacy in the 19th and 20th centuries, is now only one of several media that we use to access the written word, which itself competes with digital photography, sound and video as our primary means of information storage and retrieval. Increasingly, citizens are turning to public libraries for access to these emerging technologies, and our professional librarians are responding as Californians always have, by innovating even where resources are limited. I applaud all of our public libraries' efforts to modernize their services, and my budget continues to provide support for library broadband access.
This administration continues to support programs to help Californians become stronger readers, ensure every Californian entering kindergarten has a library card and allow every Cali4fornian to use their library card anywhere in California.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, EDMUND G. BROWN JR., Governor of the State of California, do hereby proclaim April 10 to 16, 2016, as “California Library Week.”
IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of California to be affixed this 8th day of April 2016.
EDMUND G. BROWN JR.
Governor of California
Secretary of State