Not to discredit the memory of award-winning author George Orwell, but ... whatever.
One constant amid the rush and worry of a society speeding recklessly down the byway in high gear — and regardless of today’s fashion 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.
Those who question America’s continued commitment to reading might do well to look as far as our own manufacturer of the mind — the Cleveland Bradley Public Library, a facility used regularly by thousands and one whose unspoken value marks it as one of our community’s most sacred hidden treasures.
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 welcoming 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 savor the sound of a gentle whisper.
The library is information, education and free from distractions.
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 is one whose potential grows.
We are reminded of the importance of our hometown library following last week’s visit by the Bradley County Commission. In a gathering of county leaders hosted by the beautiful downtown facility, enhanced awareness and better understanding became the rule of the day. To say commissioners, and county government staff, left the structure with a broader appreciation of the library’s majesty would be the understatement of the week.
Consider these facts:
- The number of books checked out in FY 2011-12 increased 6.25 percent over the prior year.
- Other forms of media checked out for the same period rose 3.5 percent.
- Some 307,291 visitors entered the doors to the library during this frame in time.
- More than 24,000 e-items were checked out by patrons in need.
- For those wanting to visit the library but could not, the facility went to them compliments of the bookmobile and Book Buddies.
- Library programming was in peak demand as evidenced by the registrations of 7,000 children, 275 teens and 984 adults.
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, varied newspapers or an occasional magazine. Its outreach now includes computers, opportunities for adult literacy, e-books 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.
Long live the public library. Live long the thousands who use it. And God bless those who support it.
In a day when budgets are tight and dollars are stretched, the Cleveland Bradley Public Library remains a responsible bang for our community’s buck.
It has been that way for generations of users.
It should remain this way for many more.