A few months ago, my fiancée, a visiting friend, and I were discussing what makes a city an exceptional place to live. Our friend told us that when she evaluates a town, the first place she goes is the library. After that she checks out parks.
“What else,” I asked?
“Very little,” she said. “Once you’ve seen the library and the parks, you know what kind of town you're dealing with."
I agree. The most important skill our children learn is how to read. Without the ability to read well, children enter adult life crippled. Their chances of doing well are greatly reduced.
As adults, reading keeps our minds active, alert and open to new ideas. These qualities help us adapt to the fast-changing pace of modern life. >A city without a good library starts with two strikes against it.
I immediately began to tell our friend about the Rolla Free Public Library expansion project. The original plan was to add an extra floor to the building. However, bringing the renovated building into compliance with all codes and regulations would have been prohibitively expensive.
But, with God's blessings, all things are possible. The Library was able to buy the building just to the north, which houses the Sherwin Williams paint store. The Sherwin Williams lease runs out in September, 2009, after which construction on the Library addition will begin. The new addition will be connected to the old building by an enclosed walkway. It will house a much expanded children's reading and program area.
I have been assured that Martha Dinsdale will continue to offer reading and arts and crafts programs for children in the new Library addition.
Soon after my grandson entered school, I came to realize how much I missed taking him to Miss Martha’s book readings. Martha really knows how to make stories come alive, for adults as well as children.
If you have a preschooler and have never heard Miss Martha read, bring your child to her book readings. She reads to children 2 and younger at 9:30 and 10:30 Tuesday; and three to 6-year-olds also at 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. on Wednesdays.
The library expansion will be paid for entirely by donations from private citizens and civic organizations. Since fund-raising began late in 2004, Rolla residents have most generously contributed almost $250,000.The library intends to raise another $100,000 before breaking ground in October, 2009.
There still is time to get involved in this important project of civic betterment. Checks can be made out to the Rolla Free Public Library with “building fund” on the notation line. Donations are tax-deductible.
Checks can be mailed to Rolla Free Public Library, 900 N. Pine St., Rolla, Mo., 65401; or just drop off your donation at the library and browse through the excellent selection of books.
You can also donate online at www.rollapubliclibrary.org.
And, if you are not a member of the Friends of the Rolla Library, consider joining. Memberships cost only $10 per person, $5 for seniors and students, or $25 for the entire family.
The Friends will hold their next book sale to raise funds for the library on the weekend of April 24 to 26. Opening night is for members only and the best buys go fast. So join in advance. Checks can be mailed or dropped off at the Library.
All of us in Rolla should be proud of our Library and support it.
Last Friday, Helen Messerly and I were married. Helen is a wonderful woman. We expect to be busy this week; so I may not be responding to online comments.
(Tom Sager is a retired professor at the University of Missouri - Rolla. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at email@example.com or at his website, www.tomsager.org)