“O Day of days when we can read! The reader and the book, either without the other is naught.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson was speaking to my heart when he uttered those immortal words. It doesn’t matter that the famous American writer lived over 100 years ago. The joy found in reading is universal and timeless. Some of my best memories are of reading and visiting the library — a magical place where the thoughts, dreams and knowledge of others are available for anyone to access.
It saddens my heart that the Stanislaus County Library is cutting back their hours and eliminating 13 employee positions due to declining revenues to support the library. Thankfully, the Turlock branch will not be closed any additional days. (It’s bad enough not being able to check out a book on Sundays!) Beginning June 26 the Turlock Library will be closed on Fridays and Sundays, instead of the Tuesdays and Sundays it is closed presently. But I still feel the pain that patrons of other county branches will be feeling, and I am worried about the loss of services at all county libraries.
The county library administration, in their report to the County Board of Supervisors, stated that they do not foresee core services such as reference, children’s and teen services, and Internet access being reduced. They said they do, however, anticipate longer lines at checkout and information desks and a longer waiting period for best-selling books.
I hope the county library administrators were not being optimistic when they said no services would be cut.
I can remember every library I have visited since I was six years old. When my daughter was six, we lived one block away from our town’s library in Indiana. My daughter and I would visit the library at least three days a week. We participated in every children’s activity they offered, and I frequently attended special adult seminars. The Cicero Public Library will always hold a special place in my heart.
When I moved to Turlock, the library was one of the first places I sought out. There, I was able to connect with longtime friends Stephen King, William Shakespeare and John Steinbeck. Reading can keep you connected with society, despite a move, an illness or any situation where a person feels separated from others. Libraries are like healing springs, a therapist’s couch and a friend’s compassionate ear all rolled into one. This is especially true in a town that no longer has a used book store.
Don’t get me wrong — I support our local book store and other stores that sell books. I spend at least $30 a month on book purchases. But there is a difference in purchasing one or two books to read and cherish and having a wealth of knowledge available at your fingertips. I often find that, while in the midst of reading one book, I need to access another to fully understand a literary reference being made. If I had to buy every book I wanted to read a passage from, my husband would hide our checkbook!
I know that many people think the Internet will eventually lead to end of physical libraries. This may be true. But right now, there is no substitute for hands-on library research. The number of books available online today is a fraction of society’s collected works. And many books online are only available for sale, not for free public consumption.
Between 1886 and 1919, Andrew Carnegie’s donations of more than $40 million paid for 1,679 new library buildings in communities large and small across America — including Turlock. His philanthropy created the American public library system we have today. Carnegie’s legacy should not be allowed to die.
I urge everyone who has ever checked out a book, participated in a children’s activity or used the free Internet services at the Turlock Public Library to make a donation to the Friends of the Turlock Library. Only through modern-day philanthropists will Carnegie’s vision be carried on.
Send donations to the Friends of the Turlock Public Library at: P.O. Box 1260, Turlock, CA 95381-1260.
To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.