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Wednesday, 12 June 2013 00:00

Even in tight times, libraries deserve priority funding

Written by 

op frBy Doug Woodward • Guest Columnist

What entity in our community serves the needs of every one of our citizens, whether that person is 3 years old or has been around for 90 years? And what place is this which can offer the same level of service to the wealthy and disadvantaged alike? Some organizations or businesses can offer services to a small segment of our population, but only one — our Fontana Regional Library System — can claim to open its doors to everyone.

 

Many who aren’t familiar with our library may say, “Oh yeah, they lend out books and old movies.” That limited viewpoint usually means that the speaker hasn’t set foot in the library in recent years, and sometimes we even find a commissioner or state representative who falls into that category.

 

What else can the library be doing for you? 

How about providing a computer station for those who have no computer of their own — along with trained personnel to show you the basics. 

The children’s area regularly has programs that involve kids as participants, bringing them into the story, encouraging their creativity, and stimulating an interest in reading that will help with their accomplishments in later years. 

Are you researching your family history or planning a trip into unfamiliar territory? There is always a trained research person ready to assist you.

Does your Southwestern Community College or Early College team need a place to discuss your project? Private work stations are available.

Are you a homeschooling family in need of additional resources and curriculum aids? The library can be your second classroom.

Does your quilting group or book club need a meeting room? A private tutoring room? The library can provide several options, depending on the size needed.

Are you an author in need of quiet space to write, but with research material at your fingertips? Your office awaits.

Need a comfy chair to read the latest in newly released books and magazines? Look no further than the inviting library sitting area.

All of these services, and so many more, are available to the hundreds of persons who make use of our library system every day. And does this pay off in the long run for those who take advantage of these opportunities?

Permit me to answer that question by getting personal. My wife and I have lived in Macon County for 31 years. All four of our children were born here and graduated high school as homeschoolers. In their early years, they would bring home bags of books from the library, stimulating their interest in reading and eventually writing. In their homeschooling high school years, they would sometimes take courses at Franklin High and participate in extracurricular events, but basically they kept and continued their relationship with our library. 

Did it give them an edge? You would have to judge that for yourself. The first graduated from Guilford with highest honors, the second Phi Beta Kappa from UNC-Chapel Hill, the third is now in UNC-Chapel Hill’s Medical School, and the last is a junior in Harvard University’s honors program. They are all still avid readers and accomplished writers.

There are few entities with a broader scope and more importance to our community than our library system. In a time of close scrutiny of every budget request, it behooves both our county and state leaders to give priority to the proper funding of this vital resource.

(Doug Woodward lives in Franklin and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .)

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