Guest commentary: The little library that could!

By Jill Reynolds

As a kid, I remember joyful trips to a local, tiny, branch library in Indianapolis. There, I was turned loose for a precious hour or so to peruse the shelves and try desperately to narrow down choices to the limited number of books I was allowed to check out each week. Every book looked so inviting, drawing me in! This joy was only replaced by receiving my very own library card years later — a ticket to freedom, exploration and learning all through my ragged, little paper library card. The whole world opened up!

Benjamin Franklin is generally known as the originator of libraries here in the United States, as early as 1731. He believed that books and education should be accessible to all, no matter what a person’s economic standing. He believed in freedom of ideas, the importance of literacy for citizens, and equal access for everyone. Libraries, he felt, were a foundation for these principles. Public libraries still serve these fundamental concepts today.

But hey. This is the digital age, right? Ebooks? Kindle? Online everything? Of what use are books? And for that matter, what use is a library in this day and age?

Anyone who thinks libraries are just about books is totally missing the point.

Our public libraries are more important than ever, and perhaps no more so than in our rural communities. They are meeting places serving as community and cultural centers where people meet face to face. Kids, teenagers, seniors — everyone — has equal access and connections are made as folks attend diverse events in the arts, sciences, health, technology and local issues of the day. Our local libraries are the most responsive institutions we have to address specific community needs, a place for discussion and discourse. They are places where people gather to explore, interact, and learn. In short, they are about community — live and in person. These are things our increasingly virtual world can’t touch and won’t ever replace.

All of which brings me to the Red Feather Lakes Community Library, also known as “the little library that could.”

If you’ve never seen the programs this little library puts out, let me fill you in a bit. Just from the summer alone, the RFL Library offered kids art classes, reading groups, book clubs, teen science weeks, meditation, search and rescue information, rock hounding, geo-caching, writer’s groups, scout troops, quilting, fitness classes, book signings, featured artists, Alzheimer’s programs, night sky, natural history, technology instruction, hiking, and wonderful programs on mountain lions, archeaology, Western art and local history. Oh yeah, our county commissioner drops in once a month for local discussion if that’s your thing. The Red Feather Lakes Library also plays a vital role in the 9Health Fair each year. And if that isn’t enough, come join their ukulele group starting this fall. Really!

I don’t know how they do it, but I’m so grateful they do!

This fall, a mill levy election issue gives homeowners the chance to support the Red Feather Lakes Library. We all know property assessments have declined in recent years and therefore revenue from property taxes has deteriorated. The result for the library is a $16,000 hole despite volunteers putting in 1,300 hours a year and many fundraising events organized by the Friends of the Library. The mill levy increase asks homeowners to pay $37.81 for every $100,000 your home is worth. Given the role this library plays in our community, this seems pretty minimal and modest.

A dedicated ballot for the library issue (5A) will arrive by mail to eligible voters in mid to late October from the law firm Seter and Vander Wall. The ballot is certified by Larimer County and should be mailed back in an envelope which will be enclosed by Nov. 4. This issue will not be on the regular Larimer County ballot for our general election. Weird, but that’s how this one is being done.

This is a great opportunity for Red Feather Lakes and surrounding areas. We have a voice and active hand for creating the type of community we want. We’re a part of deciding quality of life on the mountain. By our choices today, we make definitive statements about our community values and our hopes for the future. Passage of this mill levy will ensure that the Red Feather Lakes Community Library remains sustainable for years to come.

Get behind the “little library that could” and keep ‘er going. We all will benefit.

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