“I discovered that the library is the real school.” ~ Ray Bradbury
“What a school thinks about its library is a measure of what it thinks about education.”
~ Harold Howe, former US Commissioner of Education
I just scrapped an entire post. It wasn’t terrible. It was just too much. Here’s what I really want to say. I’ll try to make it brief.
In 1992, Marion ISD and Marion Community Library Association (MCLA) created a joint-use library, a partnership between the school district and a public non-profit organization.As one of the few school-public libraries in Texas, it was an experiment. I was founding librarian.
The experiment worked–for everyone. The school district had three (later four) campus libraries with existing collections of books and materials. The MCLA was eligible for grants and government funding not available to the school district. Together, the two entities built a library system that served people of all ages. The libraries were busy places. Everyone was welcome there.
When I retired, a co-worker took my place. The library got busier and better. For several years, it was listed on the Texas Library Association website as an exemplary small library. It was the center of activity in the town and the school district. My successor retired after several very successful years of service.
Now the library is in crisis. Public patrons have reported feeling unwelcome there. Public attendance and participation have decreased. The three branch libraries no longer qualify under state regulations as public libraries. The library lost its state accreditation.
Marion Community Library Association needs help to revive the library as a positive force–for the entire community. It needs and welcomes new members..
If citizens want to keep the library serving the public, they must step up and make their wishes known, to both the MCLA and the school district.
They also must show up–join the public library board and get the Marion Community Library back on its feet.
I found the quotation from Ray Bradbury on Aimless and Purposeful, a wonderful blog that comes out of Seguin, Texas, about twelve miles from Marion. Read the rest of Bradbury’s comments there: http://aimlesswithpurpose.wordpress.com/2012/06/09/the-real-school/
- Ray Bradbury, “Fahrenheit 451″ And The E-book Era (forbes.com)
- A Library Degree (andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com)
- Ray Bradbury: An appreciation (hamptonroads.com)
- All of my friends were on the shelves above (lettersofnote.com)
- Ray Bradbury wasn’t a digital dinosaur; e-backlist coming (paidcontent.org)
- Rainn Wilson and others tweet tributes to the late Ray Bradbury – CNN (cnn.com)
- ‘Libraries raised me’ (reel-librarians.com)
6 thoughts on “Marion Community Library at the Crossroads”
Excellent piece — I’m wondering if this is a national trend? Check out what Parkside and the Jackson public library is trying to do to bring a library/media center back into Parkside in Jackson, Michigan Through a parent/community effort, the school library is being brought back to life after years of not being funded.
It’s a great way for a small town to provide library services. Our school libraries were well funded, but having the extra funds (government and grants) from the public side allowed us to do so much more for the students as well as for the community. It’s a delicate balance, though–both sides have to recognize that the joint-use library must operate a bit differently from either school or public.
Thank you for the info about the Michigan library. I’ll check it out. And thanks for visiting and commenting.
Thanks Kathy for the information; it needs to be widely dispersed. Our library is in a sad state and no one seems to care. Everyone seems to think the internet holds all the answers and they don’t see the value in working to preserve what some of us worked hard to build.
Thanks for your comment, Dorothy. Y’all did work hard, for years, to build that system. At this point, citizens need to let the school district know they want services to continue at the former level. Joining the MCLA, will help, as will going inside, looking around, and checking out a book or two. The library was a vital place with a large after-school attendance (and I take no credit for that; I wasn’t a program person). When I retired, I told myself that it was not my library, and that its continued existence wasn’t my business. But at this point, I can’t help speaking up. And if you’ll spread the word, I, and others, would appreciate it.
Thanks for sharing your experience and I hope this library can find the funding it needs to flourish and serve its patrons well. My town library is very small but it’s part of the San Diego County library system and holds millions of books, so it’s easy to order books through their online database. I often notice the librarian puts the children’s books I return on the top of the shelves for all to see, so it’s good to see the books I got then stay in my library, unless someone from another library requests them. I know they struggle with the funding and it’s sad to see how little interest adults have in libraries and books in general. Americans just don’t read and the stats are not getting any better. This also means they can’t communicate well, and when I see teenagers who can’t articulate a full sentence and they’ll be part of the workforce in a few years, it makes me cringe…
Libraries are still important despite internet and its vast knowledge. My kids love going to the library just to sit and read despite the fact that we have 3 computers with internet access at home.
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