Tuesday, June 28, 2011

They Should Be Proud

This visit prompted my recent rant about funding for the Dallas Public Library:

During my trip to Kentucky to promote My Old Confederate Home earlier this month, I spoke to about 60 people at the Cold Spring Branch of the Campbell County Public Library. (Campbell County is located in northern Kentucky, just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati.) The evening crowd was enthusiastic, warm, and interested.

I arrived at the branch early—about 4 p.m—to check out the meeting room, and I had a chance to look around the library.

Naturally, I looked for notices about my appearance that night, and I found two posters and four stand-up displays telling patrons that the author of My Old Confederate Home would be speaking. There were other posters and standees showing the full line-up for their every-week-during-the-summer lecture series for adults (of which I was a part). More displays and signage described the library’s kids’ reading program, and a “toy-trolley”, stacked with prizes the kids would earn when they read their quota, was parked in the children’s reading area.

I couldn’t get into the meeting room right away because of the library’s weekly book club. Through the glass door I could see twenty women gathered around a table talking about books and reading.

The library bulletin board had notices for a half-dozen community events—photography workshops, chess club, home safety lectures, etc.—all happening at that branch. (Explore their website for a taste of the activities and resources at all branches.)

The place was packed with patrons of all ages, some coming to library directly from work; there were lines at the check-out counter.

Remember, this was just one of three branches of a library system in a non-metro county of northern Kentucky. The branch was obviously a center of community activity, and residents were taking advantage of it.

Some of the credit for this activity has to go to Janet Arno, Adult Services Librarian, who organizes and hosts many of the activities. But the county officials who’ve chosen to fund their public library in a way that seems to benefit the entire community should be saluted.

I’ve attended enough city and county budget meetings to know that library services rank pretty low on the attention scale of most elected officials. (“Potholes” rank near the top.) At times when tax money is tight and demand is great, it’s easy to scrimp on funds for a static book warehouse. But the elected officials (and the taxpayers) of Campbell County KY have chosen to make their public libraries a dynamic center for education and activity.

They should be proud of themselves.

No comments: