IN a proclamation signing ceremony on Monday at the Joeten-Kiyu Public Library, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios kicked off National Library Week, which runs this entire week.

The administration noted that libraries of all types are at the heart of their cities, towns, schools, and campuses, serving their communities, accessible and inclusive, fostering a sense of belonging.

Today’s libraries, they said, provide services beyond the four walls of a building, welcoming people from all walks of life to use their resources, such as free internet access.

“Libraries strive to develop and maintain programs and collections that are as diverse as the populations they serve, and ensure equality of access to all,” said the administration.

Libraries, they added, offer opportunities for everyone to explore new worlds and become their best selves through access to technology, multimedia content, and educational programs.

In times of crisis, libraries, librarians, and library workers play an invaluable role in supporting their communities both in person and virtually, expanding their resources and continuing to meet the needs of their patrons in a changing world.

 “Libraries are cornerstones of democracy, promoting the free exchange of information and ideas for all,” they said.

These long-served, trusted, and treasured institutions are for all members of the community, regardless of race, ethnicity, creed, ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or socio-economic status.

The administration encourages all residents to visit www.cnmilib.org and follow Joeten-Kiyu Public Library on social media to access resources and services remotely.

17-year-old JKPL volunteer Cyrano Grace Sagun of Saipan Southern High School read the proclamation prior to its signing.

Governor Torres and Lt. Governor Palacios thanked other government officials, library staff and leadership, and community members present on Monday for the proclamation signing, including U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan.

They especially thanked the Joeten and Kiyu families for building the library and providing services to the community.

 “We need to embrace this opportunity for the next generation,” said Governor Torres.

Lt. Governor Palacios specifically recalled how libraries were the resource center for people applying for disaster recovery assistance post-Super Typhoon Yutu.

“It’s not just celebrating the library. It’s celebrating and recognizing those individuals who continue to provide these invaluable services to the community,” he said.

Congressman Sablan, for his part, shared his passion for reading, recalling a childhood memory of him being exposed to books such as the Nancy Drew series.

He shared that he can’t fall asleep without a book open, and encouraged everyone to read.

“It’s truly a wonderful thing. I continue to support our library, the schools, and our public libraries,” he said, noting that over 60,000 surplus books have been collected for distribution to schools and public libraries in the Marianas.

The delegate co-sponsored legislation that passed and will bring $1.2 million to CNMI libraries.

Another elected official who shared her experience of reading was Rep. Leila Staffler, who chairs the House Committee on Education.

She shared her childhood memories of books serving as a gateway to the world, noting that growing up, she did not have access to libraries.

She encourages everyone, especially the youth of today’s day and age, to read.

JKPL director Linda Naputi, for her part, thanked the Joeten and Kiyu families, the Torres-Palacios administration, Congressman Kilili, Saipan Mayor David Apatang, the CNMI Legislature, the Friends of JKPL, and countless government, private, and community partners for their continued support of the libraries in the CNMI.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency awarded JKPL a total of $680,000 to repair the damage caused by Super Typhoon Yutu, such as the four-month project of replacing all floor tiles to non-slip tiles, replacing the library’s rusty metal bookshelves, repairing the book mobile, and replacing about 3,000 books that were damaged.

In addition, through funding from the USDA Rural Development, technology in libraries across the CNMI are being upgraded.

The oldest public library on Saipan, the Fernando Benavente Memorial Library in San Antonio, has just completed its repairs and renovations and will act as a branch of JKPL, expanding services to the community.

 “I humbly ask community leaders to please continue your support to our libraries, as we are a safe haven for kids when school is not in session, a place where adults stay engaged in a digital world, and a gateway for knowledge and culture,” said Naputi.

Also present for the proclamation signing were Commissioner of Education Dr. Alfred Ada, members of the Legislature, representatives of various government departments and agencies, Miss NMI Earth Maria Terlaje, Miss Marianas Savannah Delos Santos, and several others.

JKPL would also like to thank All Star Sporting Goods, AOK, Athletes Foot of Saipan, Bank of Guam, Bank of Saipan, Bridge Capital, LLC, Chong's Corporation, CNMI Books and Resource, Duty Free Saipan, First Hawaiian Bank, Joeten Development Inc., Lady Diann Torres Foundation, Larry Lee, M.S. Villagomez, Marianas Acquisition dba IP&E, Marianas GeoTech Services, Mechille Corporation, Megabyte of Saipan, Pacifica Insurance Underwriters, Nick Sablan, Pacific Islands Club, SmartStart Learning, Stitched, Tokio Marine Pacific Insurance, Triple J Saipan, and YCO Corporation.

Reporter

K-Andrea is a Gates Millennium Scholar who earned her bachelor of arts degree in political science from St. Francis College in Brooklyn, NY. Since joining the MV team in Feb. 2020, she has been covering the political, environmental, and community beats.

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