Nineteenth century British poet Walter Landor made this observation, and many people have agreed since then. I thought it would be worthwhile to take a look at what people have said about libraries and apply it directly to ours.
Our library is rewarding to explore. If you head to the same area every time you visit and then leave, you might consider exploring more. First there are the stacks, of course, the stock in trade of any public library. If you head to fiction normally, head to memoirs and biographies. If you always like to sit and read a little by the windows downstairs, take a look at the small meeting rooms upstairs – you might have just the right group that wants to meet there. And if there are no teens in it, poke your head into the Teen Room and see how well it creates a comfortable and creative zone for that age group.
Neil Gaiman noted, “Google can bring you back 100,000 answers. A library will bring you back the right one.” Let’s give a shout out to the staff who are knowledgeable in a variety of areas and only too happy to bring you back the answer you need. What’s more, you can schedule computer assistance, have someone help you with a fax or a copy you might need, recommend a book based on your description or your past reading history, or show you how to download the new library app on your phone.
Laura Bush once said, “The most valuable thing in my wallet is my library card.” This is even more true in the digital age. Those who think digital access makes libraries less necessary have it backwards. Your library is now available to you for the same free services 24/7 rather than just the hours the doors are open. You can download e-books to your Kindle or other device, download audiobooks, place books on hold, check to see if a book you’d like to read is currently available, find out what you have checked out that you might have lost track of and more. The more there is “out there,” the more the library can provide you.
R. David Lankes, Professor and Director of Information Science at the University of South Carolina, talks about the hierarchy of library philosophy: “Bad libraries build collections. Good libraries build services. Great libraries build communities.” By this measure, Frankenmuth has a great library. We can trace many years of our library becoming more than its collection and more than some handy services. The library is one of the main hubs of community integration – along with the schools, senior living areas, children’s literacy, Farmer’s Market, recreation (such as the Mah Jongg group that will be back one day), and teen after hours nights, story hours, guest authors, Crafting Fridays which starts again next week, a book club, family movies, special events, and more. We don’t just serve the community. We are an integral part of the community and its needs.
Director Pamela Williams has the last quote and last word: “Be the change you want to see in the world. Mahatma Gandhi. The library works to keep ahead of the curve on our place in the community to make it easier for everyone to be the change they want to see.”
See you at the Library!
By Roz Weedman for publication in the Frankenmuth News on Sept. 15, 2021