AT THE LIBRARY
The night before I returned to work I had a dream, actually it was a librarian’s worst nightmare. I dreamt I came to work after the library building was open for business. When I walked through the door a wall of silence greeted me. Looking around I realized the copy machine wasn’t churning out copies with that swishy sound; nor was the fax machine humming as it does when sending a fax. Looking to the left, the computer stations were devoid of people. Then I realized the book carts were empty which meant customers weren’t visiting and returning their books. The magazines and newspapers sat like rigid soldiers on the shelf, all in a row.
There was not a soul browsing the new book section or any other collection either. “There will be children and families in the Children’s Department,” I thought to myself. I got on the elevator and went to the basement level of the library. The Community Room was dark and the chairs and tables made a ghostly appearance. I should have heard laughter and noise from the kids’ room. Absolute silence. I hurried into the Children’s Department, only to find an empty room. The ever popular toys were neatly stacked. Puppets in the toy box were limply gazing toward the ceiling. The children’s favorite tea service was neatly arranged on the shelf just waiting for a tea party.
I became very uneasy. “What is going on?” I thought. “Where is everybody? Why aren’t there customers in here? It’s summertime for crying out loud, our busiest time of the year.” In the dream I began to panic and woke with a start, realizing my body had physically reacted to the dream. It was time to get up and prepare to go to work.
Driving through the Narrows, recalling the nightmare I realized the reason for my panic. If the community doesn’t support and invest in the library we are nothing more than mice in a mausoleum. If residents don’t understand the value and demonstrate their understanding we really have no reason to open the doors each day. As recently as Saturday, July 21, the online version of Forbes magazine published an article titled, “Amazon Should Replace Local Libraries to Save Taxpayers Money.” Clearly the author does not understand, support, invest in or value local libraries. In addition, this guy seems to be under the assumption/delusion that we can just all run to a coffee shop when we need to use the internet. I’m not bashing our local coffee shops because they are great but they aren’t in the information business; they are in the food and beverage business. But, I digress.
The reaction to the article was so strong that Forbes removed it from their site. However, as someone who is passionate about libraries and has advocated and educated communities about the value of their library I was enraged and saddened that this writer was given a national platform to spread misinformation while the defenders’ voices were not given the same opportunity. Is this a different nightmare or an extension of my nighttime dream? These were my thoughts as I turned the corner on to Tunall Drive toward the library.
Holy cow! The parking lot was overflowing. I had to find a parking space in the upper gravel lot. Gathering my briefcase, lunch, umbrella, etc., I watched as five people entered the building and no one exited. When I got to the front door there was a line at the service desk waiting for help. Book trucks were loaded with materials waiting to be shelved. Every public computer was being utilized. The copy machine was swishing and the fax was humming. The Children’s Room was buzzing with activity — a tea party in progress, magnetic block towers being built (and falling down), and a line of children at the desk waiting to claim their weekly summer reading prize.
Children, teens and adults were browsing book shelves throughout the library. Most of the comfortable chairs were being utilized with folks working on laptop computers, reading magazines and newspapers or simply relaxing while people watching.
Oh, the noise! What a welcome sound. The positive energy was invigorating. Gosh, it’s good to be back at the Mifflin County Library where our community understands the value of, supports and invests in the library. I’ve missed you all! Please stop by and say “Hi.” While you are here, check out some books, Playaways and DVDs.
Molly S. Kinney is the library director at the Mifflin County Library. She is currently reading “Before We Were Yours,” by Lisa Wingate. What a haunting, poignant tale based on a wretched era in history.