Find Inspiration in These May Milestones

Posted by Kim Woodhouse, Susan Brackney

The month of May is positively packed with goings-on. Sure, there’s the usual stuff like Mother’s Day (May 10), Memorial Day (May 25), the Kentucky Derby (May 2), and the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race (May 24), but there’s a whole lot more that you might want to tap into for new passive displays, teen programming, or other special events at your library.


LLcoolJGET CAUGHT READING MONTH—May is officially “Get Caught Reading Month.” Visit to order free posters of famous readers “caught” in the act, download free videos, wallpapers, and more. Started by the Association of American Publishers, the campaign is now in its 16th year and has attracted support from members of Congress and many celebrities, including Alicia Keys, L.L. Cool J, and Rosie O’Donnell, among others.

LATINO BOOKS MONTH—And, in 2004, the Association of American Publishers also designated May as Latino Books Month. In past years, the organization has published suggested reading lists for children, YA readers, and adults.


GARDENING FOR WILDLIFE MONTH—The National Wildlife Federation offers loads of online resources year-round for those wishing to attract beneficial insects, birds, and other wildlife to their yards and neighborhoods, but the group really pulls out the stops during Gardening for Wildlife Month in May.

If your library has the space, why not consider putting in some Certified Wildlife Habitat of your own? You could also invite some local Master Gardeners to offer wildlife gardening tips, you could encourage patrons to bring seeds to swap, or you could simply showcase your library’s wildlife gardening books and videos.


ALA_Icon_180x180_CCHOOSE PRIVACY WEEK—Ever feel as if you’re being watched? (That’s because you probably are!)

The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom encourages us all to recognize May 1-7 as Choose Privacy Week, noting “Privacy has long been the cornerstone of library services in America. . . . The freedom to read and receive ideas anonymously is at the heart of individual liberty in a democracy. Librarians defend that freedom every day.”

You can view a few privacy-related videos and download several free resources, including a Choose Privacy Week Resource Guide, civic engagement materials, Web banners, and more via



MAY MOVIE RELEASE—Time to dust off your Thomas Hardy collection.

Based on Hardy’s 1874 novel, Far From the Madding Crowd, Fox Searchlight Pictures is set to release its own PG-13 version of the tale on May 1. (View the movie trailer here.)


NATIONAL PET WEEK and BE KIND TO ANIMALS WEEK—May 3-9 is doubly significant for animal lovers.

The American Veterinary Medical Association recognizes this time as National Pet Week, and May 3-9, 2015 also will mark the 100th observance of the American Humane Association‘s Be Kind to Animals Week.

cat-351926_640This would be a great opportunity to invite a speaker (and maybe some furry, four-legged guests?) from your local animal shelter or animal rescue group to discuss responsible pet ownership and show off a few adoptable animals. You could also use the occasion to start your own local “Book Buddies” program, which encourages kids to read aloud to shelter animals.


CHILDREN’S BOOK WEEK—Sponsored by the Children’s Book Council, Children’s Book Week officially takes place May 4-10. Visit to order free posters, print your own Children’s Book Week bookmarks, and download a digital toolkit.


STAR WARS DAY—It’s not every day you can say, “May the fourth be with you.” (Groan.) Star Wars Day is May 4, of course. Check out the official Star Wars “May the 4th” page for Star Wars craft projects, recipes, party decor ideas, and more to help you do the day up right.


WORLD GOTH DAY—Ever wished you could be a goth? May 22, otherwise known as World Goth Day, is your chance.


eastern-box-turtle-451323_1280INTERNATIONAL WORLD TURTLE DAY—May 23 is International World Turtle Day, an event started by American Tortoise Rescue in 2000. The nonprofit organization hopes to help people learn more about turtles, tortoises, and the need to protect their natural habitat.

Have a university or community college nearby? Invite a biologist, ecologist—or, if you’re lucky, a local herpetologist complete with a traveling collection of creatures—to speak at your library.


TOWEL DAY—Yes, “Towel Day” is really a thing. On May 25, in memory of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Author Douglas Adams, fans are encouraged to conspicuously carry a towel with them everywhere. Why? Because, as Adams wrote, “A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.” Learn more here.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY—There are plenty of good author birthdays this month, so break out the streamers, set up a display of birthday books—and maybe even a giant birthday card for patrons to sign, while you’re at it…books

• Bobbie Ann Mason—May 1, 1940
• David Guterson—May 4, 1956
• David Attenborough—May 8, 1926
• William Moulton Marston—May 9, 1893
• Barbara Taylor Bradford—May 10, 1933
• Stephen Colbert—May 13, 1964
• Katherine Anne Porter—May 15, 1890
• Lorraine Hansberry—May 19, 1930
• Alexander Pope—May 21, 1688
• Ian McEwan—May 21, 1948
• Sir Arthur Conan Doyle—May 22, 1859
• Mitch Albom—May 23, 1958
• Ralph Waldo Emerson—May 25, 1803
• Raymond Carver—May 25, 1938
• Dashiell Hammett—May 27, 1894
• Herman Wouk—May 27, 1915
• John Barth—May 27, 1930
• Ian Flemming—May 28, 1908
• Walt Whitman—May 31, 1819


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