Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Knight to Remember

When I first started in libraries, I was completely oblivious to the intricacies and politics of "Library Land."  Strict (deteriorating) budgets, rival systems, marketing nightmares, it all seemed unreal.  Almost a year ago the unreal became very real when my library almost shut its doors for good.  At first, of course, there was shock and denial.  No, this can't really be happening.  Then there was fear.  I'm about to lose my job, a job I love.  Then there was anger.  How can this be happening?  How can my community be losing this resource?  And finally, there was pure determination.  If I haven't mentioned already, I work with some pretty amazing people.  We dusted ourselves off, wiped the tears from our eyes, and fought tooth and nail to survive.  And we did.  But we only survived because our community stepped up in humbling, amazing ways.  They volunteered, they donated, they spread the word about how special their community library is and why it should survive.  They saved the library, and we are growing and prospering in ways we wouldn't have dreamed last fall.

This past week, legendary IU coach Bob Knight came and spoke for free to raise money for the library and celebrate the life of a woman who supported her community.  It all started with a man waking from a dream and deciding to act to save a resource that's valuable to the city.  Seems unreal.  It seemed unreal to us, but after months of planning, eleven-hundred people filled a venue.  And it was awesome.

In the fourth grade, my elementary school put together a project to teach kids how to bind books.  The had to write the book that was being bound.  While the rest of the girls in my class wrote about unicorns and princesses, I wrote a little story about Bob Knight being kidnapped by Gene Keady, winning the big game with seconds left, and finding buried treasure in the basement of Assembly Hall.  I got an A+.  For some reason, I saved the book I wrote twenty years ago.  This past week, the ten year old girl in me did a happy dance when the coach signed the book and actually smiled. (Sidenote:  Mike the Garden Gnome came along to the reception where I met Knight, but after seeing his stereotypical stoic, "grouchy" expression, the usually courageous traveler shook with fear my bag - I'm saying I totally chickened out...) 

We've been fortunate.  Luckily we started telling our story a few years ago.  We wanted our community to know what we do on a daily basis.  We wanted the patrons and professionals in our city to understand that we are far more than just a building of books.  We are resume builders, job seekers, teachers, mentors, and friends.  Support your local library.  While you may not need all the resources it has to offer, your neighbor might, and they deserve the availability to learn and grow.

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