Thursday, April 12, 2012

Public Libraries Serendipity Moments from the Past, Present and Future

Throughout my life I have enjoyed the privilege of access to public libraries, even having a library card as a young child. When I think of the book mobile that came down our street and allowed everyone the opportunity to check out some books for a couple of weeks, I can envision the entire experience. There were two public libraries some distance from our home and we often walked, rode our bikes or our mothers took us to utilize the treasures located there. At the time I was clueless to the true investment being made by our community in financing these facilities.

Since I was very young I have always been an avid reader. My eyes and the ability to read are counted as great blessings in my life. As a mother I read to my children and grand children countless books, as we explored the imaginations of wonderful authors. We read series such as Narnia, Little House on the Prairie, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, Harry Potter, Twilight and many more. Because of this our family shared some very unique time together and had some very interesting discussions.

At the present time I am serving on our Gladstone, Oregon Public Library Board and we are in a very intense situation over the building of a new library facility. My purposes for serving on the board are my love of reading, the need for a more functional facility and support for genealogy research for our community. In a letter to the editor of the local newspaper my friend mentioned among the valuable resources a new library will provide is the opportunity to, "search for ancestors through genealogy databases."

My prior experience on the school board, city park and recreation board and city budget committee provide an understanding of the financial requirements and options for funding this building. One group, Save Gladstone, have placed on our ballots for this election two measures that will stop the building of the new library, require elections for most future development, and cause a loss of the funds provided by county resources for the new library.

The other group, Build Gladstone's Future are working desperately to clarify the actual consequences of these measures, so citizens will understand fully what they are voting for. It is hard for people to understand that a no vote actually means that the new library will be built. Our current 50-year-old library is very small and is not ADA compliant. The children's room is very crowded and there are stairs leading to three sections of the building. When one visits libraries recently built in other communities it becomes apparent the potential of our new library.

Serendipitiy for me is that the old libraries that I used as a child were far superior to what our community has today. While we are a small community, we have out grown the current facility. Young and old utilize the resources offered and with a new library we can provide a much wider array of opportunities. It is very hard for me to see the vision of what can be and realize that by people being misinformed we may lose out on this opportunity. The possibility of a facility where we can incorporate a genealogy research section with volunteer assistance and classes would be a priceless addition. As genealogists we must be involved in maintaining access to the tools needed to research family history and public libraries are key to this effort. What we do is not just for today, but also for the next fifty years and beyond when people want to understand their families and the places that they lived in.

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