Wednesday, May 7, 2008

More small town life

Today was groundbreaking day for our new library. It was a true community event, as only such a celebration can be in a small town.

We've been working on this project for at least four years, and a usable building is still many months away, but the joy at reaching this stage was palpable!

Practically the entire elementary school was there, as well as kids from the Mancos Valley Independent School (a Waldorf school), senior citizens, big wigs, little wigs and well-wishers from all over the Mancos Valley (the library district covers the entire valley).

We assembled at the site, enjoying the spring sunlight. Lots of people got a chance to shovel up a spadeful of dirt; the folks shown here are the library staff. 

There was a table with small, smooth river rocks and marking pens ... everyone, young or old, got to write a message on a rock and toss it in the bucket of the front-end loader, to be buried in the first load of cement poured for the new building.

Kids were invited to bring their own Tonka toys and do a little earth-moving themselves on a pile of dirt set aside especially for them. This little industrious fellow took to it eagerly!

Our public library goes back 62 years, to the donation of a batch of books by assignees at Civilian Public Service Camp No. 111 ... the first government-run camp for "work of national importance" to which conscientious objectors were assigned during World War II. When the camp four miles up the road north of Mancos was demobilized in 1946, the departing assignees gave their library to Mancos for public enjoyment.

The library limped along for years and years, first in one location, then in another. Sometimes it was open a few hours a week, sometimes more. In recent years (i.e., in the 19 years I've lived here), it has grown from one room to a nice, light corner building at the center of town. Mill levies have been readily approved by voters, and the library has expanded its services as an information center for everyong, including tourists wanting to check their e-mail. Still, it is terribly crowded - four staff people have desks in a room the size of a big walk-in closet!

So, this is a time for jubilation! The staff and board have worked hard and long, getting public input and considering how to be most accessible, energy-efficient, intergenerational, etc. We're ready! tv

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