October 11, 2007
Who Endorses the Library?
I was at at a restaurant recently, where I was approached by a young father who had something he wanted to tell me.
He had three children, ages 9, 7, and 4. One Saturday, he gave them a choice. They could do anything they wanted: go to a movie, go for a mountain hike, eat out, or -- but then they stopped him.
"No, dad!" they said. "We want to go to the library!"
He shook his head, then grinned. "It's their favorite place."
That, my friends, is the moments librarians live for -- learning that we've hooked the next generation, learning that the future is populated with people who enthusiastically embrace literacy in all its manifestations. It gives me hope.
That's a powerful endorsement.
But it's not the only one.
Over the past several weeks, I have been making presentations to a variety of business and political entities.
On August 23, 2007, the Library Board of Trustees voted to place a question on the November 6 ballot. That question is a mill levy increase of 1.25 -- about $30 a year for most households.
Thirty dollars is the cost of a single hardback non-fiction book these days. For that price, Douglas County residents will get two new libraries in Parker and Lone Tree (on donated land), and a new storefront library in Castle Pines North.
Everybody else will get far more than one new book. They will get literally thousands of new materials, as well as improved Internet and computer access. It's all our attempt to keep up with the apparently insatiable thirst for library services in Douglas County, maintaining standards of space that we've tested, and know will work.
And we've gotten other endorsements: the Parker Economic Development Council, the Parker Chamber of Commerce, the City of Lone Tree, the Castle Rock Economic Development Council. We've made presentations to other municipalities and business groups as well, and hope to get their support in the coming days.
Why would both businesses and government agree about the value of a strong library system?
From an economic standpoint, libraries are good business. The fastest growing sector of our economy is the small office/home office business. They get their start at the library. Libraries provide direct assistance in helping people figure out how to live AND work in their own communities.
Bridging business and government is the great value of the library as a bustling public place. We are anchor stores, and advocates not only for reading, but for a whole panoply of cultural offerings. Those activities get people out and about, forming new connections and civic awareness.
I have believed passionately in the value of the library to the individual since that miraculous day when I saw my first bookmobile as a child. As I've gotten older, I've learned that libraries not only build new possibilities for each person, but for whole communities.
We are a social asset, a building block for a stronger, more vibrant town, city, and county. We're not the only one, of course. But we work hard to contribute to the efforts of others, too.
But quite aside from my own endorsement, or the resolutions of other bodies, I still think it doesn't get any better than this: the kids of Douglas County think we're cool.