The ‘why and what’ of libraries

  • Candace Bradbury-Carlin, Director of The Tilton Library in South Deerfield. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ—Paul Franz

  • Candace Bradbury-Carlin, director of The Tilton Library in South Deerfield.

  • The Tilton Library in South Deerfield. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ—Paul Franz

  • Children’s Librarian Julie Cavacco waits on Dean Gray, 9, of South Deerfield at the Tilton Library on North Main Street in South Deerfield. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

For the Recorder
Published: 7/4/2019 8:00:17 PM
Modified: 7/4/2019 8:00:06 PM

Why does a library matter, anyway? What happens there? Oh, the places we will go when asked that question.

Let’s start with the ‘why.’

The American Library Association’s Core Values for Libraries are access, confidentiality and privacy, democracy, diversity, education and lifelong learning, intellectual freedom, the public good, preservation, professionalism, service, social responsibility, and sustainability. That, in a nutshell, is why libraries matter. Every person who walks into our doors matters. All are welcome.

Libraries empower and respect people, educate and entertain people, and bring people together. The fact that our society has built and sustains an international network of institutions that are based on pure democracy is something for which we should be grateful and proud. 

Libraries start and join conversations in their communities. The topics range from anything such as book reviews and movie suggestions, help with technology, and guiding people on research; to addressing the broader themes of homelessness, poverty, civic engagement, mental health, and environmental sustainability.

Let’s take the word sustainability. The word gets used a lot — both here and in just about everything we read these days. It is a powerful word that can cover many topics. For the library, it means helping our communities to stay strong — not just to survive but to thrive. Given the core values listed above, a library can be an essential center in its town or region.

What about environmental sustainability? Climate change? Those terms are also often seen, with even more urgency in recent years. Libraries can have a role in that arena as well, by modeling, educating, and collaborating to foster the future health of our shared world.

The Tilton Library takes these core values and our role in sustaining our community and our world very seriously. Don’t worry, we also like to have fun, but more on that later.

The general story of what happens at libraries, including our own, is both what you’d expect and a lot of what you may not expect. We provide printed and digital books and actively promote literacy. We offer DVDs, audio books, CDs, as well as a large range of downloadable movies, music, and magazines, and access to computers, printing, and faxing. 

The Tilton Library joins thousands of libraries in providing services and resources in a myriad of ways, in person and online, including help with job searches or a school report, the local bus schedule, and how to reach your representatives or locate a local soup kitchen.

And there’s more. Are you suddenly faced with a sewing project but do not have a sewing machine? Borrow one from the Tilton for free. Been thinking of trying to learn the ukulele but not ready to buy one? Take ours home and try it for free. So many libraries now offer these items, known as the “Library of Things.” You can borrow just about anything — including a kayak (I am referring to you, Shutesbury and Sunderland libraries).

Want to learn a craft, discuss a book, have space to tutor a student, hold a meeting, run a gaming club, knit with a group, or attend live concerts — all for free? Libraries provide those opportunities and more. Here at the Tilton, we use our beautifully preserved but small building for as many uses as possible. However, we are on the waiting list to get a matching grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners in the coming one to three years, which would allow us to expand our building, and therefore our offerings and services, dramatically.

An expanded building will also offer more space for people of all ages and abilities.

Back to environmental sustainability — we are joining other libraries in preparing programs to address climate preparedness during National Climate Preparedness Week in September. These programs will include talks and workshops by both high school students and professionals in the field. Also, we have been offering coffee and tea at the library for a while now and we are ready to shift that system to be more environmentally friendly. Stay tuned for more details on our programs in September and other ways we are addressing environmental sustainability.

What’s happening right now

The Tilton Summer Library Program, which encourages reading, learning, and participating, is underway. This year’s theme is “A Universe of Stories,” in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. For the kids we have ongoing space-related activities, story times, games, and prizes — something happening every day we are open, until Aug. 16. For the teens and adults we present a book review challenge in that every review card you turn in serves as a raffle ticket for a $100 gift card to Atlas Farms or Greenfield Games, and you can also choose a small treat with each review you give us.

Our annual Monday Night Music series happens every Monday at 7 p.m. from June 17 to Aug. 5. Come join the fun on our big lawn, under the trees and bring a picnic and a friend. We also just started an ongoing Knitting Club and a Dungeons and Dragons group.

Other local libraries are also providing special programs this summer: 

The Northfield Drive-In: A special showing of E.T. and Apollo 13 on Thursday, July 18, in celebration of the Summer Reading theme. Cushman Library (Bernardston), Dickinson Library (Northfield), Arms Library (Shelburne), and Jones Library (Amherst) will all be pre-selling tickets for this event at a discounted price to anyone who holds an active library card.

Toto the Tornado Kitten Visit: Toto and his owner, author Jonathan Hall, who rescued Toto from the tornado in 2011, will visit for a special story hour. Toto is the hero of two books and you will have a chance to pet him. Tuesday, July 9, 3 p.m. at the Carnegie Library in Turners Falls.

Dino Adventures: presented by Animal Adventures. Fossils, dinosaur skulls, velociraptor claws, and dinosaur skin you can see and touch. Plus live animals such as monitor lizards, alligators, scorpions, birds and snapping turtles. Friday, July 12, 11 a.m. Carnegie Library in Turners Falls.

Train Like an Astronaut: Physical astronaut activities (outside, weather permitting). For kids. Wednesday, July 10, 1 to 2 p.m., Dickinson Library in Northfield.

Trivia Night at Cameron's Winery: Social event with space-themed trivia. Come with a team (up to 6) or without (we can match you up with other teams) for three rounds of questions and answers. Food and drink available for purchase. You don’t know what you’ll know. For adults. At Cameron's Winery. Thursday, July 11, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Hosted by the Dickinson Library of Northfield.

Moon Landing Memories: Share and listen to memories of the monumental event 50 years ago when humans first landed on the moon. On July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 launched into space; four days later it landed safely on our moon; and four days after that the astronauts returned safely to Earth. The Bennett's Meadow Bridge was built over the Connecticut River in Northfield that year. What were you up to? How do you remember the moon landing? Share yours and hear others' stories in the comfortable Community Room at the Dickinson Memorial Library, as part of our 2019 Summer of Space: Universe of Stories. Tuesday, July 16, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., Dickinson Library in Northfield.

Circus Minimus: One-man show that has traveled the world and is guaranteed to entertain. Wednesday, July 17, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. At Northfield Elementary School. Hosted by the Dickinson Library of Northfield.

Candace Bradbury-Carlin is the director of Tilton Public Library on North Main Street in South Deerfield


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