To say I am thrilled does not adequately describe how I feel. Along with many other hard-working volunteers, I’ve been working on this project for several years. We all firmly believe that Winthrop will benefit greatly from having a larger library. The current one is stuffed full with books, and it is so cramped for space that it is difficult to hold events at the library. Whenever I go to Bailey, it is busy, busy, busy, thus disproving the notion that in this age of electronic reading devices, libraries are a thing of the past. Not in Winthrop they aren’t! And if they are relevant in Winthrop—which is a macaroni and cheese kind of town—then they are relevant everywhere.
This project has had its ups and downs, and most of the problems have revolved around money. Winthrop, like many other Maine towns, has suffered during the recession, and unfortunately the state government made the situation worse by cutting the amount of revenue it gave to the town. Understandably, there was great concern in Winthrop about the cost of this project and whether taxpayers would be footing the bill. The campaign team spent a great deal of time reassuring the community that the money for the addition would come from donations and grants.
By the time we had our kick-off celebration this May, it was obvious that most of the fears had been quelled and that there was huge support for the addition. Since then, the project has taken on a happy momentum as one milestone after another has been reached, with the latest being the bid approval by the town council. They didn’t even need to discuss it, and the motion passed without discussion.
On a personal note, I have to add that I can’t imagine what I would do without the library. Our modest budget does not allow for the purchase of many books, but thanks to the Bailey Library and interlibrary loan, my intellectual life is well nourished. From the library, I get a steady supply of books and DVDs, ten or more every month. Some of the books I read from beginning to end. With others I only read a few chapters before deciding the book is not for me. The library gives me the freedom to do this, to take a chance on a book, to sample it before deciding whether I want to finish the book.
I know there are many others in town who are like me—readers on a modest budget. They are one of the reasons why I have worked so hard on this project (although admittedly not as hard as some people have).
Then there is my rather high-blown concept of libraries—that they are a force for good, that they represent everything that is fine about our species. Libraries encourage thought, speculation, creativity, and freedom. They are a town or city’s most precious asset, and they are open to all residents. Repressive regimes almost always target libraries, and sometimes they are literally burnt to the ground. Then there are the brave souls who anticipate this and hide most of the books before the terrible deed can be done.
Anyway, long live libraries in general and Bailey Library in specific!