At the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Seattle, ALA officials announced that Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will serve as honorary chair of National Library Week, April 7–13, 2019.

“We couldn’t imagine a more ideal person to serve as National Library Week honorary chair,” said American Library Association President (ALA) Loida Garcia-Febo, in a statement. “Melinda Gates has been a partner and catalyst for focusing global attention on the essential roles of libraries in providing equitable access to information and learning in the digital age for more than two decades. Her efforts to lift up underserved communities and empower individuals to make a difference in the world mirror the spirit of librarians and library workers, who work to help patrons reach the peak of their potentials.”

Indeed, over the last 20 years, Gates has invested more than $1 billion through her foundation’s Global Libraries initiative to enhance the power of libraries to improve lives.

“In addition to providing communities with access to ideas and information, libraries play an important role in our public life by encouraging creativity, promoting equality, and serving as a source of empowerment,” Gates said. “This week, and every week, library workers deserve our support and our gratitude.”

Gates, meanwhile, kicked off the 2019 ALA Midwinter meeting with a stirring keynote that focused on gender equality. And on April 23, Gates will publisher her memoir, The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World, with Flatiron Books, a Macmillan imprint.

The 2019 ALA Midwinter Meeting runs through January 29.

First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is an annual observance by the American Library Association and libraries across the country each April.