Our focus then came compliments of the Bradley County Commission whose members and support staff held their weekly gathering at the beautiful facility, and toured its modern, multifaceted departments. Theirs was a fact-finding and informational visit, one we would encourage other government, civic, denominational and education groups to consider.
Our purpose for returning attention to this center of knowledge is simple. It is National Library Week. For the brief period of April 14-20, libraries across America — in communities, schools and universities — are being saluted. Honorees include the heartbeat of all libraries — the workers and their directors, whether paid staff or community volunteers.
If appropriate, may we quote from our own editorial, as published in the Feb. 20, 2013, edition:
“Communities change. People come and go. Lifestyles evolve. Interests swing back and forth like a pendulum from the mind of Edgar Allan Poe. The future remains aloof and serves as anyone’s best guess. And some believe the Internet will reign as global ‘Big Brother’ by 2084.”
Granted, it was a unique style in introducing the community value of a library. Perhaps a following paragraph from the same editorial better tells the role of this institution, whether it is a public or school facility:
“One constant amid the rush and worry of a society speeding recklessly down the byway in high gear — and regardless of today’s trends whose direction is guided by what’s hot and what’s not — is the public library. This literary resting spot was a watering hole for words decades ago. It still is today. The public library was, is and will be a collection point for people and a calming respite from life gone wild.”
Considered by most communities to be a sacred hidden treasure, libraries fill a hodgepodge of diverse roles. Again, we borrow from our own previous opinion piece:
“The library is cool in summer and warm in winter.
“The library is a soothing breath of quiet in a world surrounded by roar.
“The library is a friend to the people and a confidante to the many whose trust is unconditional.
“The library is a place to meet, a welcome door that greets and a shelter of comfort for the weary who ask for little more than a good book and a cushy, cozy seat.
“The library is a chance to hang the hat, to mellow rattled nerves and to save the sound of gentle whisper.
“The library is information, education and free from distraction.
“The library is a destination for the amusingly young, the extremely old and every age group in the vast in between.
“The library is a source of pride, a center of excellence and an icon of opportunity.”
Some believe the level of its school system is the measure of a community’s quality of life; much the same can be said of a city’s caliber of library. A town whose library excels — as does ours — is one whose potential grows.
As society’s needs have evolved, the relevance of the public library has followed suit. The library is no longer just about the printed books, selection of newspapers nor quantity of magazines. Its outreach now extends to computers, adult literacy, e-books, music, programming and audio collections. If you need to read it, view it or wish it, the library probably offers it. If you want to learn it, the library can likely teach it.
As we said before, “Long live the public library. Live long the thousands who use it. And God bless those who support it.”
In a day of shortage of funds and painful crunch of budget, the Cleveland Bradley County Public Library remains a responsible bang for our community’s buck.
It has been that way for generations. It should remain this way for many more.
Congratulations to our public library, and to its sister operations in our schools and universities. You are not hidden nor are you a secret. But you are a treasure, one that should never tilt to the influence of mediocrity nor fade from the eye of those it serves.