By Ken DeLaat
Tuesday brings the vote on a new library for White Cloud.
I don’t reside within the boundaries of the WC Community Library service area. While often in the Cloud and known to frequent WCCL I will not be casting a ballot since that task remains within the domain of those who are being asked to support the new facility.
There exists an issue however, with regard to some of the comments being bantered about on the subject of this initiative. Particularly the argument regarding the relevance of libraries in today’s world.
For those who say libraries are outdated and passe I implore you to visit nearly any such place in any town. You’ll witness a steady stream of users throughout the day punctuated by the buzz of activity during peak times.
The children’s programming at our public libraries continues to evolve into events that spark creativity and a love of reading among our young and has resulted in a huge upswing of participation for families.
New facilities are emerging throughout the country because communities see them as civic showpieces offering much more than merely books. Libraries are incredible places with such broad appeal that few who enter their doors would find the contents of no use to them.
And what’s more they are consistently and universally quiet for the most part. And who doesn’t need a little quiet time?
I confess to being a huge fan of libraries. It was my third favorite place at CMU after The Bird (yeah, a bar) and The Malt Shop (not a bar) because of the endless possibilities that seemed to exist within its walls. It was a very cool place even though it did not serve beer nor did it have really fine pinball machines with ice cream being served on the premises. But very cool nonetheless.
When my older sister (just a year but I feel it’s kind of important to keep reminding her) landed a job at a library I admit there was an annoying stream of jealousy running through my veins despite a symbolic applauding of her good fortune. Further contemplation reminded me that having visited a number of libraries from coast to coast and abroad as well, the experience of finding competent, highly organized and well informed folks crewing the desks of the libraries I’ve entered has been consistent. I concluded that my somewhat meager organizational skills would likely have precluded any stab at proficiency within the workings of a library.
My big sis however, who inherited all the administrative ability genes to be found between us while I settled for a strong predisposition toward creative relaxation, found a home there. She loved it and having visited her on the job it was apparent she had found her place. Totally in her element as a lover of books and knowledge and fresh ideas she took pride in her role at sharing the ‘goods’ available at the library with her community. Retirement has not in the least diminished the affection she holds for this much favored workplace.
But I digress.
Libraries deserve our support. They say a great deal about their communities .A library symbolizes the importance a community places on knowledge. I’m certainly not saying that major companies will relocate because of a new library but enlightened people, people with ideas, those innovative, creative folks always, and I mean always, check out the library as well as the schools when considering relocation.
My point (and I do have one here somewhere) is that if you are inclined to not support what seems to be a much needed facility in our county seat I get it. You may have a number of reasons.
But one of the arguments that cannot stand up is the notion of our libraries no longer being relevant. They are as alive as ever, with growing numbers of visitors each day. Youngsters checking out their first books, new arrivals getting their library cards, job seekers and students accessing information through an internet not available or not affordable in their home. These are the people who populate our wonderful public libraries.
Yes, libraries are alive while breathing knowledge and information in the most egalitarian manner to all comers.They are temples of erudition and sanctuaries for enlightenment.
And worth every penny invested their way.
"I think the health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture, and our concern for the future, can all be tested by how well we support our libraries."- Carl Sagan
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