2017 at the Gibson Memorial Library had more ups than downs, and we’re hoping for a strong finish. Until we see him again, at the end of our days, we’ll miss our dear friend Bernard Shea. On the ups, we now have ICN internet service, and our coffee guys and crochet club (the Gibson Gals) are going strong. Since August 2016, our beloved patrons have donated or pledged nearly $200,000 to our planned expansion, and our greatest hope is the Creston Area Library and Cultural Center is an idea that’s time has come.
I love serving our patrons, but at the end of the day, I’m a city employee. It’s my job to lead our capital campaign, and while I firmly believe that an up-to-date library is essential for a good quality of life and workforce development in Union County, I reserve my fondest admiration for the volunteers who advocate for our library in the community. It takes courage to ask folks for their hard-earned money, even for such a worthy cause, and I take heart in knowing that members of our capital campaign committee are motivated by their passion for the community.
Do you know Peg Anderson, Kay Raymond, Connie Maxson, Susan Weight, Aric Bishop, Judy Gile, Tessa Hull, Ann Coulter or Jeremy Weese? If you do, please thank them for serving on our capital campaign committee, and their efforts to bring our public library up-to-date. Above all, thanks to all of you who have generously donated to our cause!
Doubting the role libraries play in the Information Age? If anything, the internet has increased our vitality in the community! Our public computers, Wi-Fi and document delivery bridge the digital divide. We provide the information connectivity that is essential for our patrons to enjoy a high quality of life and succeed in the workforce. These vital public services ensure we’ll survive, but with no space for small and large groups to gather, we’re increasingly unable to meet the community’s needs.
Think our library is good enough as it is? I love our library, but with more than 3,000 school-age kids in Union County, it troubles me we’re unable to host more than 30 schoolchildren at a time. An early start on literacy is essential for success, but if parents aren’t bringing their children in, a lot of kids are missing out on their public library. Our summer reading program reaches some of those youth, since First United Methodist Church and Holy Spirit Catholic Parish kindly allow us use of their facilities, but the absence of a direct connection with books and literacy makes those settings less than ideal. Please don’t get me wrong – we’re deeply grateful for those partnerships – but hosting large programs in the library is a mission critical function we can’t now perform.
Our library board – with much citizen input – has created a building plan to address our library’s needs. Without added space, we’ll be increasingly unable to provide the services, programming and access to materials that are available at most southwest Iowa libraries. By building at our current location, we’ll remain an anchor institution in Creston for years to come. Recent renovations to libraries in Clarinda, Red Oak and Shenandoah show updated libraries attract from 50 to 100 percent more visits annually.
So, on this Giving Tuesday, please remember our most-worthy of area causes, and help us spread the word: “The Creston area needs an up-to-date public library!” Let us know what we can do to better serve you and your family. Tell your city council-person your family supports library renovation. Buy a “Building on Our Legacy” yard-sign to show your pride in our library. “Like” our Gibson Memorial Library Facebook page. Join the Creston Friends of the Library. Above all, thank our loyal volunteers, because they are doing the hard work needed to restore our public library as a hub of community activity.