Clark Memorial Library patrons greatly appreciated Janie Cook’s expression of solidarity in last Friday’s (May 26, 2017) opinion section.
Clark Memorial Library certainly is an experience we all will miss. Not just a convenient destination with plenty of parking and immediate computer access, its historic façade has greeted Clarkdalians for almost a century. First as a church, then -- so fittingly -- as a community library.
Once inside, the interior (large enough to feel airy, but small enough to retain a hometown ambiance) is crammed with the warm, life-shaping memories only community libraries provide. The day you got your first library card and could select the book you wanted all by yourself.
The Storytime Lady who introduced you to new worlds and taught you how to play with words and tales and new ideas. The day you discovered the type of books that became your life-long friends. The solitude you sought on some occasions and the like-minded companions you found on others. The days you hid out in the library to escape some woe (in CML, especially, the heat, after library volunteers provided air conditioning).
The librarians who listened to your needs and helped find just the right materials for that special report, that budding novel, that important job interview, or simply your insatiable need to know what your teachers didn’t tell you. All waited patiently for their owners’ next visit.
We’ve patrons who remember browsing books and chatting with the volunteers who staffed the Clark Memorial Clubhouse “Reading Room.” One of those CML volunteers, Edith Lindner, still volunteers at the Clarkdale Historical Museum. And one of those early patrons, Gene Shaver, who also recalls being schooled in the old yellow schoolhouse, came to the May 23 meeting to support an institution that’s thrived for a couple years longer than he has. “Woodsmen spare this tree!”
Even newcomers like me think fondly of the calm, but unstifled, unstructured, and very friendly atmosphere. The kids reading, surfing the Internet, and playing board games with their friends after school. The exquisite art exhibits tucked away in the stacks. And especially the other Southwest culture buffs I couldn’t help but meet while negotiating that section.
I know I can find much the same in Jerome, but not exactly. Jerome has a jolly librarian, but different ghosts and patrons that live way up the hill, not down by the river.
Anyway, this interaction with books and people, this intersection of the past and the future, is a treasure to which everyone should have access. And some of us are still looking for ways to preserve it.
If any VI readers have suggestions for retaining our library experience for Clarkdale residents who, due to youth, infirmity, or economic straits will lose community libraries altogether on June 30th, please comment here. Or contact me at the Save Clark Memorial Library blog site: SaveCML.wordpress.com.