Where can you go and find that every class distinction will be erased? Whether you are rich or poor, you are welcome.
Where can you go and discover that your ethnicity, your skin color and your religion will not count for or against you? Regardless, you are welcome.
Where can you go as a baby who has yet to learn how to crawl or as a wheelchair-bound great-grandmother and be treated with the same care?
“Perhaps,” Lady Bird Johnson once said, “no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest.”
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The Cabarrus County Public Library has no politics; it has community. Our library’s four branches do not serve special interests; they serve the whole of our population.
At the Concord main library, six story times are offered to children, starting with babies and toddlers and on up to pre-teens. Programs with Legos and arts and crafts are offered – free, of course, as are book clubs for elementary and high school students.
Would you like to learn more about local history? The Lore Room – and library programs that support it – will help you trace local genealogies or discover how folks lived in this county generations ago.
Without paying a penny in fees you can continue your education at the library. Our Concord library offers courses on acquiring computer literacy and understanding the Internet. Healthy living and good nutrition have also been on the library’s program docket.
If you don’t have computer at home and you are looking for a job, you can use one of the 20 workstations at the library.
“The public library,” said Michael Eury, president of the Concord Friends of the Library, “is an informational nerve net for people who don’t have access at home to computers or the Internet.”
Children’s authors, local and visiting authors, even free movies and movie discussions are part of our library’s programming.
The library does so much with so little in the way of budget resources. It’s been like that since I moved here more than 20 years ago.
25 percent of staff cut
The recession of 2008 resulted in significant cuts to the library.
Then this past June, our county commissioners reduced the Concord library staff by 25 percent. Now the history librarian is doubling to cover the front desk as well as the Lore Room. Outreach programs that were critical for getting books and library-related programming to housebound elderly are now being handled by a single staff member.
Concord’s library no longer has a “floater,” someone who can fill in at the other library branches when staff elsewhere are sick, dealing with an emergency or on vacation. The cuts at the Concord library affect the entire system.
“It stymies me to see the library regarded as a ledger item,” Eury, a local writer and historian, said.
How is it possible that the library has been made part of the bitter and ugly political conversation afflicting this nation? Supporting our library is not funding “big government.” The library is one of the few places left to us that welcomes us all, serves us all and considers us all.
But now, program implementation takes longer. Services take longer. Fewer people are available to help with research.
Imagine losing 25 percent of your workforce and the likely effect of the loss on your workday. Does your company serve – for free – any and every resident of this county?
More services may be diminished, given the politicized environment.
County employees cannot speak out. So we, those people they serve, must engage in the conversation.
Are we prepared to continue sacrificing an institution whose only purpose is to serve all the residents of Cabarrus County? If we do, where will all of us be so welcomed?
Barbara Thiede is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Barbara? Email her at email@example.com.