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Friday January 19th 2018

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Local Library to be Limited to ONLY THREE DAYS of Service to our Community an editorial by Paula Andersen

As a child I was lucky that the local library was open six days a week.  It was five blocks from our home and it was safe to walk there. As an only child I took refuge there during the summer months as my mother was always working to sustain us.  In the winter a weekly trip was enough to return and replenish my reading library.  My love of reading was grounded in being able to choose any book I wanted.  In the summer when visiting my grandmother’s home, her friend, John Baade would read to me extensively from the classics.  Shakspeare, Beowulf, and Socrates were heavy hitters for a 9 to 14 year old.  His kindness in explaining the nuances of their stories helped me greatly when I started college.  He believed that the libraries of America were a place where democracy could be nurtured, maintained, and illuminated.  The freedom to select a book,  and now CD’s, DVD’s, books on tape, order interlibrary loan materials, and use computers  has only added to the need to keep our libraries open and free.

During the last election the need for a new library and/or additional funding for the existing libraries was soundly defeated.  When polled these individuals that voted against it believed the library was a thing of the past.  Unknowingly they also condemned our local Shell Knob library  and four others to less than 25 hours of operation.  Eagle Rock, Miller, Pierce City, and Purdy starting August 1st will be open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 8:30am to 5:30am.  None of the 9 libraries will be open on Saturday’s!  Why?  Because the taxes needed to keep these doors open  have not been increased since 1986! This shift in services will disappoint our children and adults that still see a library as one place where freedom to choose still reigns.

My office is next door to the library.  During the summer I see 20 to 30 children a day come in and return home with books.  They attend programs designed to create a thirst for knowledge that can be satiated by reading and researching the truth.  On Mondays, when the library is closed I see their bowed heads of disappointment and discouragement as they try to open the door.  During the summer, many adults who are visiting here cannot believe they cannot access the internet on Mondays.  There are many individuals who do not have a phone or a computer to use to reach family and friends via the internet. In Missouri there are still many that are unable to read, the libraries are where volunteers work to help these individuals.  Our library is lucky to have a program room that can be used by groups or individuals for special programs.  The summer reading programs encourage readers to hold a book in their hands and open their eyes to others’ ideas and thoughts.  On visiting our library I have frequently heard, “There is nothing like holding a book in my hands, being able to reread certain passages, and obtain new ideas.”  Others have said,   “Electronics create distances and artificial meanings that are painfully prying apart our American way of life.  Texting prohibits us from expressing our feelings towards one another, sharing new ideas, and appreciating our past.”

Thank you for reading this, I love my town, and I do not want our children and ourselves to be deprived of what our forefathers considered an American right to be informed. Paula Andersen, editor

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