MECHANICSBURG — This week, the word “geek” is a verb at Joseph T. Simpson Public Library in Mechanicsburg.
“Geek the Library” is a nationwide campaign sponsored by nonprofit organization Online Computer Library Center, Inc, and the Mechanicsburg library saw it as an opportunity to remind residents of the many ways libraries can be used, said Rebecca Swanger, adult services librarian and volunteer coordinator.
“It just seems like a really innovative and creative way to reach out to the community,” Swanger said. “We’re just trying to get the library back in the public eye more.”
Throughout the week, community residents will have an opportunity to participate in essay and poster contests, receive free promotional items, and tell their legislators what they like about libraries.
The “Geek the Library” website says the campaign “hopes to inspire a conversation about our incredible public libraries and their urgent need for increased support.”
While Merriam-Webster doesn’t list “geek” as a verb, the campaign defines it as “to love, to enjoy, to celebrate, to have an intense passion for.”
Many people think of libraries simply as buildings that collect dust, Swanger said, but they now provide music, multimedia and Internet resources, and even information about leisure activities like card games.
“No matter what you feel passionately about, the library supports you,” she said. “We’re trying to get people to see that the library has changed over time.”
While some may see the free nature of library services as less essential than before with so much information available for free online, Swanger disagrees. The library provides free access to scholarly databases for which people would otherwise have to pay, for instance, and gives assistance to students working on school projects, she said.
The week kicks off on today with an informal essay contest allowing participants to explain why the library is important to them. Essays are due by Friday and can be submitted to any library employee, Swanger said.
People can also vote for their favorite of 152 customized posters that portray area residents and what they “geek,” and can get their own poster made on Thursday.
The winners of the poster and essay contests will be announced on Saturday.
People are encouraged to wear red and black on Tuesday in honor of the campaign’s colors, and anyone visiting the library can get free pens and other promotional items during “freebie day” on Wednesday.
The library is encouraging residents to write their legislators on Friday on postcards the library provides, asking them to continue supporting public libraries. The library will then mail the postcards to elected officials.
“Then they have an idea that people are using the library, and what they’re using the library for,” Swanger said.
The campaign will conclude with a “Geek the Library celebration” from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. May 28 at the library.
Mechanicsburg Mayor Jack Ritter has proclaimed May 18 to May 24 to be “Geek the Library Week” in Mechanicsburg in honor of the library’s campaign.