The Cepia Club Blog

The Cepia Club Blog: The Cepia Club believes individual awareness and activism can lead to a peaceful and prosperous world. This blog contains the pertinent literature, both creative and non-fiction, produced by the Cepiaclub Director and its associates.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Introduction to “Select Guide to Libraries of the St. Croix Valley” Review of: River Falls (Wisconsin) Public Library

Introduction to “Select Guide to Libraries of the St. Croix Valley” Review of: River Falls (Wisconsin) Public Library By: Tim Krenz For: Hometown Gazette Introduction: Can libraries and all they contribute, bestow greatness to civilization; health to the body public; and shape the places, and the peoples, where they exist? We must believe by historical fact and future potential, that yes, libraries do much to make a meaner human instinct more refined, and further the peaceful pursuits of knowledge more productive of enlightened and gentle natures. At the least, libraries and what they hold—not only books—prove targets for the wielders of dogma and manipulators of ignorance, as the wicked and corrupt have always sought to destroy knowledge and the reasons for using it well, all in order to attain some sub-evil advantage. Like the collected libraries through history, from Alexandria's great hoards of scrolls beyond memorable time; to Tibetan block prints of the universal harmony's endless thoughts; and even the fragments of script parchment of Dead Sea monks; the works of central knowledge for the sake of good will pose only threats to the errors and short-mindedness in those who learn nothing and forget the parts worth remembering. Libraries have such power, now, in the past, and most likely beyond us. We must always remember and preserve the importance of libraries, as deposits of shared human experience and vision. A long time past, books existed by means of hand-crafting beautiful words and enlightened labored illustrations. Library holdings may change by type, design, and the way we use them, but from those personal holdings of favorite treasurers, to that of the Library of Congress, libraries give humanity its continuing, and even its evolving narrative. With this article, I begin a long-term project to review some libraries in the St. Croix Valley region of Wisconsin (and one in Minnesota). I hope to instill in the reader the passion to visit some of these “treasurables,” the large and high public libraries around us, as well as the smaller and the humbly-equal gifts to our communities. Dear readers, share them with others, contribute to their defined mission to make us all more knowledgeable, yea that we know the more grateful reasons to enjoy their existence. In one of the visits to the best secrets in any town—its library—perhaps one of life's unexpected memories will happen around it. One never knows. . . so always remember. . . Review One: A Book-palace Auditorium The River Falls, Wisconsin, Public Library assaults the “end of libraries”--theory in the digital e-epoch of the dawning on-line world. As a brick, stone, and mortar Xanadu, a book-pleasing modern pleasure dome for language in the architectural vision, the library consumes one-quarter of its small city block on the Main Street leading downtown. On the lot of the old hospital, but on the opposite side of the downtown from the city's great Wisconsin state university, the library opened on December 1, 1997. It took ten years of planning and fund raising to move from the old city hall into the new modern book-palace. A Library Foundation, established in 1993, made it possible. That foundation continues to create the renewing links between the library as building and the people—staff, volunteers, and patrons—that give it life. The covered walkway, open on the sides and upheld by parallel rows of brick pillars, leads to the foyer and the surprising fire marshal's sign of a main level capacity of “425” amidst scores of thousands of books, and other media, on stacked shelves, surrounded by tables, and wide spaces of open floor. More people can fit downstairs in the fully-functioning art gallery. With all the floor space, at 36,000 square feet, every feel and sense of the library offers intellectual and physical space to explore. The central auditorium-like ceiling, my favorite part of the architectural design from the firm in Cedar Rapids, IA, lifts a rectangle of high open sky under a tiered and windowed roof. One can imagine the gods of ageless wisdom and the protectors of the library's intrinsic wealth dwelling in a haze akin Mount Olympus somewhere, up there. With the book stacks located under the wings of the roof sides, the aura of light prevails as the “eureka-finds” appear on many rows; somethings new to enjoy or learn. Libraries ultimately require people, or they serve no useful or good and benign purpose. And the present future users of the River Falls Public Library have many things to enjoy, as shared to me by Monica L., the Youth Services Librarian. With around 14 high school volunteers, a massive summer reading program, magician shows, “mad scientist” performances, and jugglers entertain hundreds of young people. Even in winter, Lego-building contests and “Star Wars movies and Yoda Origami” projects thrill the roomfuls. With 37,000 children and young adult media items alone, and no figure conceivable on the larger sections of collections, the massive undertaking of creating better places to live, and assisting in the character of those who visit, nothing short of a total community effort went into and goes into this library, for all to share. Library Director Nancy Miller concurs. She proudly, with reason, explained that 700 non-library meetings each year use a meeting space in the library for their group functions. And among 80 volunteer invitations, over 2000 hours of valuable assistance comes to the library—enough to cover 1 full-time staff employee. “A public library says so much about what a community thinks about itself,” Nancy said. Indeed it does, and its does well in River Falls, Wisconsin, as a public library forming a strong and attractive asset for all in the St. Croix Valley.