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.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Clear Lake Public Library-- #4 Select Guide to Libraries of the St. Croix Valley

Select Guide to Libraries of the St. Croix Valley
No. 4—Clear Lake Public Library
For Hometown Gazette
By Tim Krenz
June 12, 2013

As a developing theme of this series of articles, we must in due course ask how can a community compare its worth either with a library or without one? The type of investment into a library, in the least sense, means sustaining the traditional levels of what libraries have always done: provide a basic and efficient service to its patrons, with the lending or in-house use of the “old school” books, magazines, collections, references, and other multimedia items (movies, music, etc., etc.). Whether for personal interests of personal inspiration, the traditional concepts of public libraries undergo a progressive transition that match the times in which we live. The question becomes, then, one of relevance.

Two self-responsible pursuits—to self-educate and self-improve—will become even larger trends as information epoch in the 21st Century proceeds. The pursuit of knowledge, entertainment, or to improve employment potential, find cost-efficient availability provided by the modern “public library.” The relevance question for public libraries becomes very large: In this age, do we require rural public libraries, or ones filled with those things called. . .”books, etc.”, and how far can a local government justify the expense of public libraries when the world has so much “digital information” accessible via home-wired internet?

No libraries exists as islands, even as the foiling bells toll the financial disaster and a rumored death of a future American democracy. Libraries exist as continents of knowledge, surrounded by a sea of drifting people that congregate on its shores for the security of mind and soul. And among that sea, the fish of insurgents fight the tyranny of ignorance and censorship, the dangers of falsehoods and wrong facts, by supporting the libraries and fertilizing the land with honest, truthful dissent to question the authorized truth. A free society cannot underestimate the value of the gathering place like a library, and the pillars of democracy they provide, to the past, in the present, and toward the future.

Once located on the 2nd floor of the old village office building across the street from its present location, the Clear Lake Public Library moved from its temporary main street quarters into the village government joint facility in July 2005. On the western wing of the red brick and mortar complex, one enters the library via the main doors beneath the high-topped front facade. The facade adds to the building's impression of a neo-Gothic cathedral, but one with the clean and friendly lines all around that invite a participation into the communion of shared knowledge and shared community. Built by Clayton, WI,'s Berghammer Contractors, the facility captures the permanence of age and modernity, amidst the whisping winds of change.

The library director, “Cricket” La Fond, began her tenure in 2001, with the first mission to computerize all the material listings into the reference system, a task required by the regional MORE Library Consortium, of which it forms a part. At present, the Clear Lake library holds 14,298 books, 1,702 books on cd and cassette tapes, 3,142 movies on dvd, and maintains a list of 54,584 e-books and 13,679 down-loadable audio items. Due to an intense area-resident interest, the library maintains a premium-line of quilting magazines, books, and other media. And to this author's personal satisfaction, the library might contain the largest selection of individual volumes of the Library of America collection, in both fiction and non-fiction items.

With only two paid staff members, a friends of the library group, a core of around 10 individuals, support the library activities. In addition to providing all refreshments for special activities, the group organizes and runs the annual plants and book sale during the summer for the library's benefit. The institution of the library even had one elderly woman volunteer, before she passed away, teach her skills and share the tools of her second-career of promoting and advocating the Clear Lake Public Library. Like the brick and mortar of the building, and true of the real value of libraries, caring people and the relationships formed within a community, through a library, give an otherwise inert building the life that makes it special, that brings a modern public library “alive.”

To bridge the gap with Clear Lake's traditional public library and the future of libraries, newly-hired assistant librarian, Kim C., uses the various digital-and-on-line social media to expand the awareness of the library's activities and news. And still, the traditional means of the library newsletter continue as the bridge between old and new forms of media. As with other modern libraries, Clear Lake has full-wireless for patrons' laptops, and seven computer stations for those who need them.

Yet, the challenges of basic literacy persist in the modern world. To help struggling readers, Clear Lake Public Library provides over 100 reading assistance kits, with both reading material and sound discs for reading along, all in the effort to bring people the basic awareness of language, and the uses of language in forming consciousness. To expand on George Orwell's metaphor in the novel 1984
the expanse and use of language, and the awareness of its potential, and the advanced literacy of its power, provide the unlimited freedom to reasoning. This theory might form the strongest and most important bond to the future survival of democracy.

The Clear Lake Public Library's youth and young adult activities also teach other kinds of literacy. Cricket, the director, and Kim, the assistant library, often run science experiments, have speakers, and promote the education of nature, in addition to the traditional story time and challenge reading programs.

According to Cricket LaFond, the best accomplishment of the past decade centers around creating good relationships with other community organizations, via the people of the area who involve themselves. And the diverse library board of directors possesses 7 members of both genders, and all ages and professions. As with other libraries, and the smaller ones reviewed or under review in this series, the people who involve themselves in the public library, who use it, who help it, and who benefit from it, form the sum total of one community in a shared voice for the common value they see in their rural village public library.