Joanne Palmer: Make like Andrew Carnegie and support library
July 31, 2012
"The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go."
— Dr. Seuss, "I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!"
I love Bud Werner Memorial Library. It is my favorite place in Steamboat Springs. I go there several times each week. I go there with my laptop to work. I go to meet a friend. I go with questions I need answered. And I go to check out a book, movie or music.
I love the friendly staff. I love the new building. I love watching the colorful fish swim in the aquarium. I love that I can stop by for a cup of coffee and grab a healthy snack. I love spending a sunny, snowy afternoon curled in a comfortable chair reading and admiring the sparkling Yampa River.
I love all of its programs. This week, a partial list includes a movie about Asian vultures and a man who flies with them. Yoga on the Yampa. Story-time for kids in English, Spanish and dog. Yes, every Monday, kids can practice reading aloud to a dog. What could be more fun? A bright, beautiful little girl in our neighborhood excitedly tells me about reading to Vernors, a big, lovable Bernese mountain dog. She almost has reached her goal of reading 50 hours this summer so she can have a sleepover Aug. 17 at the library with all the other little bookworms who have read.
Everything in life would be better if it worked like a library.
Think about it.
A library is built on trust, something that is in short supply these days. The library trusts you to borrow a book and then to bring it back. Where else can you do that? If you have a fine, you can pay it whenever you have the money. There is no accrued interest, threatening letters or phone calls; the library simply trusts you will pay.
Our library does not disappoint. I never have gone there with a question its staff can't answer. The reference librarians are tireless human search engines. They will help you figure out anything from how to write a resume to what your car is worth to how to get books from their online catalog onto your Kindle. They do not wear their hair in buns, hush you or glare at your from behind their glasses. They are the unsung heroes and heroines of literacy. Books are books whether they come from the library or http://www.amazon.com. Electronics have changed and altered the landscape of publishing for sure. But one of the real casualties is the lack of connection to librarians. Teachers get many shout-outs for being underpaid and undervalued in our culture, but librarians aren't even on the radar screen. They are the last bastions of literacy, trying to lure people into a relationship with books that will change and improve every area of their lives.
Books are the best. They have made my life immeasurably better, and they've done the same for millions of other people, too. Andrew Carnegie, a rags-to-riches Scottish immigrant who made a fortune in the steel industry, spent more than $55 million of his wealth on libraries. He built 2,509 libraries, of which 1,679 were built in the U.S. Why? Because he educated himself with books. He didn't have the time or money to go to school, so he sat down and read. Carnegie wrote, "It was from my own early experience that I decided there was no use to which money could be applied so productive of good to boys and girls who have good within them and ability and ambition to develop it, as the founding of a public library in a community."
Hug a librarian today. Or, if you can, make like Andrew Carnegie and write a check.