Libraries offer opportunities to explore

Updated: Mar 29

Country Notebook

A typical spring includes chilly evenings, but my heart warms when I think about the opportunities Linn County provides. Not perfect, but good to great, especially as we must compete with the more heavily populated counties around us.

In my last journal submission, I briefly described why I am grateful to call Linn County, my home. Each year, I choose a word describing an action I want to model. This year’s word is “gratitude” or more specifically, showing gratitude to people and places working toward the enrichment of country living.

My list of passions for which I show gratitude often feels overwhelming but I do a fairly good job at balancing my priorities. Reading and writing, as in books, is one of those passions and I set goals to read every day and write five to eight hours a week. Readers of this column may ask, “What does that have to do with Linn County living”?

The common thread is our libraries.

Years ago when I moved to Linn County, I was pleasantly surprised that a library is located in six of our towns, Blue Mound, La Cygne, Mound City, Parker, Pleasanton, and Prescott. Two of the six are relatively new buildings and two have had recent additions or space reconfiguration for additional services. Of the remaining two, they are housed in older buildings with an atmosphere of historical significance. If their walls could talk, I suspect they would speak with pride for their hometown heritage.

If every library’s walls could talk, I think they would shout out how much technology has changed the ways a public library is used. I spent a little time exploring the website of one of the libraries and wandered onto a website listing electronic resources. From the comfort of your home, the library provides extensive educational support. Much different than walking to the library with my mother years ago, finding a book and signing the check-out card. A hold-onto book, still my favorite, is yet available, but the services are so much more.

As I viewed the websites of the libraries, photos of preschoolers revealed the grandest part of the library, lying on the floor listening to a storyteller animating a fantastic book. Library space is allotted in a different manner now than when I was in school. Instead of rows of books, there are rooms for meetings and for digitalizing family records. Space and equipment are available to talk to a doctor via telehealth services.

As I explored the websites with continuing interest, I was directed to the Economic Development Office. Check it out, especially if you’re anticipating opening a new business. I found a list by category of businesses available under Search Business Directory. I soon realized not all businesses have found their way onto this site, but it is a good start. Business owners take heed: Submit New Business Entry is a way to publicize a livelihood. I admit, I do not use the library as I should, but doing a little research for this column has peaked my interest.

Who pays for the current and expanding services of the library? I pulled out my recent real estate tax form and, sure enough, we as taxpayers pay taxes according to the mill levy assigned, similar to how we pay taxes for the schools in the county. Although it is a small percentage of the tax bill, it is a service we should appreciate and advocate for what we would like our county library to provide. Additionally, the libraries are also writing and receiving financial grants for their expansion efforts.

As in so many aspects of life, “this is not your mother’s library.” I suggest you visit one of Linn County libraries and make it your own.

Rogene “Jeanne” McPherson is a writer who lives outside of Centerville. She recently published a book about her experiences entitled Posts from the Country, Adventures in Rural Living. It is available online in both virtual and printed editions. Copies are on the shelves at all Linn County libraries.

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