Time for Moore: Celebrating libraries
Those who value education are attracted by strong public libraries, which is why professionals ... are drawn to communities with up-to-date, attractive libraries....
Since February is “I Love to Read Month,” I’m here to affirm readers everywhere, as well as the entity that freely feeds readers’ souls: public libraries.
As a child, few things thrilled me more than a trip to the library. I relished the chance to peruse the shelves, take in the glorious smell of ALL THOSE PAGES and emerge with a pile of fresh reading material that promised to entertain, educate or challenge me.
One hot summer’s day, I was energetically biking the several blocks to my local library when, while attempting to stay clear of a passing car, I veered into the curb. My pedal rebounded off the concrete and I was thrown, with my bounty of completed books scattered in the street and my knees scraped to a bloody pulp.
Whimpering, I gathered the books, picked up my bike and limped the remaining half block to the library, where air conditioning cooled my hot forehead and damp paper towels blotted my weeping knees. A sympathetic librarian asked if I was okay. Though I fought back tears, I knew a stack of new books and some gulps of water from the fountain would restore me for the return trip.
Contemporary libraries provide far more than books, though they continue to be welcoming “third spaces” for all members of a community. Today, computer access, lectures, cake pans, book clubs, concerts, homework helpers, teen hangouts, kids’ story hours, research assistance and much more are all elements available at many public libraries.
And library services are typically free of charge for all comers (with rare exceptions, such as copying or printing fees). Libraries are among the few places outside a person’s home where anyone can go to relax, recharge or obtain entertainment or information without having to pay a membership fee or additional costs to simply be there. A modest portion of taxpayer dollars, along with supplemental funds from “friends of the library” groups, make all of this possible.
Public libraries are opportunity equalizers; one needn’t lay out cash or credit for so much as a cup of coffee to enjoy the privilege of spending time there, reviewing a magazine or newspaper, using a computer or checking out a book or movie.
Above all, libraries promote literacy and offer the means to educate oneself — two priorities that never expire.
Those who value education are attracted by strong public libraries, which is why professionals (dentists, lawyers, doctors, veterinarians, teachers, accountants, psychologists, engineers, scientists) are drawn to communities with up-to-date, attractive libraries in which community investment and support are evident.
Communities having difficulty recruiting enough professionals to serve their needs would do well to assess their libraries, because you can be assured those professionals are doing the same when considering where to locate and raise their children.
Given the choice between a town with a new, spacious or recently remodeled facility and one that is dated, too small for its populace and undervalued by its leaders, it’s a no-brainer as to which locale will get the nod when other factors are on par. Investment in public libraries is a sound and wise choice for any community’s future.
I’m no longer the 10-year-old with skinned knees who sought refuge at the library on a hot afternoon, nor the parent of three young kids who frequented the Nobles County Library on a weekly basis, but as a middle-aged person I’m still thrilled every time I enter a light-filled, welcoming library where the possibilities for growth, education and enlightenment seem endless. Libraries have the capacity to serve every citizen at each stage of their lives.
Yes, February is the official “I Love to Read Month,” but for some of us, that’s true every month of the year.