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 11, 2014

Review of: Centuria Public Library From: Select Guide to Libraries of the St. Croix Valley

Review of: Centuria Public Library
From: Select Guide to Libraries of the St. Croix Valley
By Tim Krenz

Languages exist to share stories, the narratives of life. Languages communicate the ideas and creativity of people , whether their facts or the themes of their thoughts. Libraries preserve that which we lesser angels and demons of this universe desire to save, even of those memories we longer remember without the aide of documented record.

As a deposit bank of the sum of human experiences, libraries restore the knowledge, the joyful and the harsh, to the people for whom ancients and the “recents” left their stories to better the future, someday. Wherever libraries exist, in private collections or public places, libraries ultimately credit themselves to the profit of the people and societies who built them.

And like all nature, human nature needs to nurture the orchards of wisdom which we call libraries. Only thus can the fruits of wisdom through living life return through stories to their original audience, to the generations of children coming later. In any age fighting the legions of arrogance and the phalanxes of ignorance that would undo the sounder lessons learned, libraries form a strong, though flexible, wall to protect ourselves from the armies of self-fulfilling doom, but can do so only if we use libraries, and use them well.

In Centuria, Wisconsin, the public library building sits humbly yellow-painted, under the shelter of an overhang, with chipped-cedar shingles, expressing a normal feel to its utility and non-extravagance. It moved into this building in February of 1985. For the recent 13 years, its director, Lynn Schauls, and her only assistant the past 12 years, Melissa, continue a venerable library service to this sand-blown community.

This library started its story around 80 years ago. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Centuria Woman's Club organized the library, using a small space for a few shelves provided by the then-Bank of Centuria. According a short history by one-time librarian, Billie Aherns, the Woman's Club raised funds for stock materials to lend, received some community donations of others, and offered library patrons books, etc. from the Wisconsin State Traveling Library.

By the end of 1940, the Village municipal government assumed responsibility for the library, with continued help from local residents. As a “public” library, like most in the state, the local and county governments help sustain libraries. As Lynn Schauls reminds us, she works for the taxpayers of Centuria, and in her tenure as director, the library seeks to excel at accomplishing much with the efficient use of fewer resources than one could expect possible in the “digital age.”

In such a small community of around 900, Centuria's library has 509 cardholders inside village limits, and 124 rural patrons. The size of the physical media (books, magazines, dvds, computer work stations, etc.) that comprise the in-house collection (including digital downloads) may seem modest. But in the digital age when libraries consolidate their collections and move onward to more technology-focused media, Centuria still keeps its collection current and strong on topics that patrons want, with the emphasis on new fictions and biography. As larger libraries in larger towns offer more diverse children and young adult programs year-round, the Centuria library keeps its youth summer program simple, encouraging young people to discover and read books—the real ones. In this, a challenge of modern libraries arises.

Civilization cannot avoid digitizing more and more materials, for patron convenience and for more efficient use of space. Yet, no matter what, each library does itself well to cater to its demand from their communities. And the Centuria Public Library mission succinctly states what must remain the fundamental purpose of all public libraries: “Keeping up to date materials, books, and references as current as possible for the community. . .--the books, media AND the technology.”

Economy and budgets in any endeavor for a library can not serve a mindless aim of a clown with dollars. In the current years of economic shifts, Centuria's library saved unspent portions of their budget for 3 years, and remodeled, at no extra cost to anyone, an old storage area into a well-done community meeting room in the back of the single level library. The room serves its purpose, like the Centuria Public Library in general.

Begun in the Great Depression, continuing during the great “Economic Readjustment” of today, Centuria, Wisconsin's public library persists still and moves forward with the times, at the pace and forethought comfortable for it, its board of directors, and the patrons and community it serves. As an endless lesson for which this story shares, the library that survives, inevitably thrives.