For weeks I have been planning to write about the Bangor Public Library, it really is an incredible facility that we are so fortunate to have. With the recent news story regarding the problems with the building’s roof now seemed to be a good time to do so. For those who read this blog on a regular basis you will know that it’s purpose is to talk about what books, movies, music and television shows I am enjoying, or not enjoying, at any given time. The Bangor Public Library is, for me, and a great deal of people in the Bangor area a huge part of our ability to enjoy our lives.
First I need to confess I am not an engineer, I know nothing about the structural soundness of the library’s roof. With the released estimate to repair the copper dome coming in at three million or more I can certainly understand how that amount is large enough to take people aback. Still, for me, there is no doubt that our library is one of the jewels of our city. It is my belief that our determination to keep and maintain our library at the same measure of external beauty and internal resourcefulness will be a strong measure of who we are as a community.
I grew up in a small town with a small library. For a town our size it was a nice building and when a small child it still was a place of wonder, we knew no bigger. When my family moved to this area the library had not yet been restored. The stacks were unreachable and yet, even with the library in this condition, the circulation numbers were high. When Stephen King made his incredibly generous donation to spearhead the drive to restore the library we were more fortunate and blessed than perhaps we realized.
Like the families in Hampden that have that wonderful new school for their children to attend I feel like my children were in that first lucky group to grow up with this new, modern, incredible and fully accessible library. My children all learned to count by walking up the many steps to the library’s entrance. It is a memory we will share forever. They went to storytime, a weekly trip to get books was a part of their lives. Studies will show over and over, the one repeated indicator of a child’s success in school is a love of books, a love of reading. There is no better way to manifest this than with a strong library. The question must be asked how can we as a community talk about being pro education without supporting our library.
The library is not just for children. Our library has an incredible selection of books, consistently you can find any new book you wish, for those on limited budgets this is a great service. When one thinks about all that we pay to listen to music, to watch television, to order magazines, anything we might want to enjoy, the fact that you can walk into our library and pick up anything from a bestseller, a classic, an Eric Carle book for your little one, to a reference book and it is free sometimes still amazes me. As I have M.D. it is hard for me to walk, I reserve a book, they pull it and have it ready for me at the desk. Where else can you find people that love their work and genuinely want to help you. And, it should be noted, none of these fine folks is getting rich working at a library, it is a labor of love.
Our children joke with us about the fact that while some folks are known by their first name at a favorite restaurant, their Mom and Dad are known by their name at the library. To me this is a pretty good thing.
Is there a way to fix the library roof in a less expensive way? Perhaps there is. As I said I certainly profess no expertise on that subject. Over the last couple of days I made the mistake of reading the comments section below the articles regarding the roof and it’s potential cost. It never fails to surprise me the level of vitriol spouted at, for example, education issues, teachers, and, in this case, the library. From suggesting they close it down or move to a much cheaper, smaller location to complaints about allowing the Occupy folks to stage a protest on site a year ago these are the same folks who want to cut budgets at schools to the bone. To me the answer is clear. The library says they will be holding a large fundraising drive and I am sure it will be successful. Our library has one of the highest per capita circulation rates in the country, we are a city of readers. We should be proud of that.
If a community is going to go to the mat supporting something is there really anything that says more about who we are and what we believe in than by having that support be for a library we can all be proud of?