I recently spoke in Columbus Georgia. Columbus is a town that clearly struggles with harsh economic times. Everywhere you can see boarded up abandoned buildings. And yet there is positive spirit there in the face of economic woes. The first thing that struck me was he performing arts center in a downtown area in the midst of renewal. A grand an inviting structure. But nothing could prepare me for the library.
Historically a library is the grand salon of a community. A comfortable place for people to gather, to study, to read, to enlighten themselves. The Columbus Central library is the benchmark of what a modern library should be. Vast comfortable spaces dozens of public computers. Light streaming in from huge windows. I could live in this library. There is huge support in the community for the arts and for the library System; things that transcend the here-and-now and look to the future.
I think to my home state of California, where libraries – particularly school libraries are severely underfunded and in some cases even shutting down. The health of a community can be judged not by it’s wealth but by how it chooses to spend it’s resources. By investing in it’s libraries, Columbus has invested in it’s future. It’s good to see a community with it’s heart and priorities in the right place.