Archive for Thursday, August 6, 2009

Library offers fresh environment, a new home for Bonner readers

August 6, 2009

Recently, our community was blessed with the opening of a new state-of-the art library. It was a project that began some time ago before our nation and world suffered a huge recession and period of unemployment. I believe that its opening at this time is auspicious, for it means that those who are struggling to survive in this economy just received a huge bonus. Those who do not have spare money for movies and to buy papers, books and magazines now have a place to access these items cheaply and in an environment conducive to completely enjoying them. Those who need to look for and apply for jobs in a difficult market now have a place to get help applying and finding those jobs. There are a number of computers available to library patrons. They can use the ultra-swift Internet connection at the library to search for new jobs and apply for them. They can access e-mail and send it through online accounts. Those who do not have money to purchase books for the young children in their family can borrow them from the library at no cost to themselves.

Frankly, I don’t know how children exist without books. I grew up a long way from town or civilization as some people call it, but I was never without a book to read. My parents had both taught school before they settled into farming and ranching. All of us children learned to read at an early age with my mother wielding flash cards for both words and mathematic operations. There were always books in the house with a set of World Book Encyclopedia, numerous childhood classic editions and the Bible. I particularly enjoyed “Hurlbut’s Bible Stories.” They had action, drama, romance and struggles between good and evil. I sometimes read the classic King James Bible too, but it never flowed as well as the Hurlbut’s. In short, we always had books, but that doesn’t mean that we didn’t need more books.

In the summer, my mother burnt up the gravel road going to town for spare parts, groceries and other farm supplies. To our great joy, after her errands were taken care of, she often stopped at our county library. She would get a huge pile of books for herself and my brother and sister and I chose some for ourselves at the same time. We didn’t have television or any other entertainment, so those pages were our ticket into other lands and dreamscapes. That library was important beyond calculation to us. I learned about life and love from the books it held. I learned about my country and others. I read folk tales from Africa, adventures of an Arab boy, Aladdin, and endless stories of young people from all over the world. My brother and sister keep me company with their heads in books. To this day, I don’t feel entirely comfortable visiting homes with no visible books or magazines or newspapers.

For me, all libraries seem like home. The motto over the entry door of our new library is a quote from Thomas Jefferson. It says, ”I cannot live without books.” It is an appropriate quotation for a new library because after the original Library of Congress was burned in the War of 1812, Thomas Jefferson’s personal library of 6,487 books were acquired by our young nation to become the core of the Library of Congress, one of the largest libraries in the world. The credit for the first subscription library in our country goes to Benjamin Franklin who founded it in Philadelphia in 1931. Both Franklin and Jefferson would be pleased today to see how popular their enthusiasm for books has remained and shaped our world.

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