Copyright © 2003 Henrietta W. Hay
Vote for the Library!
October 10, 2003
My favorite information store is still the best buy in town, but it is
bursting at the seams. You probably call it the Mesa County Public
Library. It has been growing with our community for over 100 years and
is looking forward to another hundred. But now it has to have more room
in order to serve the community which has grown faster than it has.
The aging grocery store was adequate thirty years ago. Today it is
not. And it would be most impractical to start shelving books in the
Public libraries are a uniquely American institution. They are the
great equalizer, providing information resources to everyone -- to
toddlers and the aged, to women and men of all races and colors and
They are the storehouse of ideas, ideas of rebels and traditionalists,
poets and crackpots, philosophers and radicals, statesmen and schemers,
theologians and atheists, paupers, presidents and kings. There you find
ideas that offend you and ideas that echo your deepest belief.
Mesa County Library Director, Terry Pickens, calls the Library
the University of the People.
Grand Junction's first library building was a gift of Andrew Carnegie.
He furnished $5000 on the condition that the city would agree to furnish
a building site and guarantee $1200 per year for library operation. At
the dedication of that first building in 1901, I. N. Bunting, of the
Daily Sentinel, intoned, "Next to the churches and school houses of
America come the libraries as factors in the enlightenment of every
grade of society."
He was so right.
When our library outgrew the Carnegie building, the community pitched in
during the depth of the depression and built the library on 5th and
White. During the time the library was housed in that building the city
and the county got together and created the Mesa County Library
District. And it was while we were in that building I began a 25 year
career with the library. We outgrew that building and in 1974 moved
into the remodeled grocery store that the Mesa County Library is
stretching to its limit today.
One day during construction, the staff visited the "new" building. It
was winter and the basement floor was covered with ice. We had a
wonderful morning skating in the library.
And now at the beginning of a new century, we have run out of room again
and there is no place to skate, although the building still leaks.
Grand Junction citizens are being asked to build a new, much needed
library building, the fourth in a hundred years. The building will be
new, but there will be a hundred years of memories floating around the
ceiling, including a lot of mine.
The first three buildings housed mostly books. Today's library houses
an excellent collection of books, and so much more. They have a new
tool -- one that can connect them almost instantaneously to information
around the world -- the Internet. The Internet gives us global reach on
a scale never before possible. They connect us to world without
borders. For the 50% of homes in Mesa County which do not have
Internet access, the library gives that access. Many Americans are
taking their first ride on the Superhighway in their local library.
The library furnishes services now that Mr. Bunting could not have
imagined. The children's library is overflowing with young readers and
with kids watching puppet shows and listening to stories. There are
special services for the blind and literacy programs for the
functionally illiterate. Homebound citizens have materials delivered to
Libraries make information available to every citizen. Democracy and
libraries have a symbiotic relationship. It would be impossible to have
one without the other.
Our library has grown with the community. But it has grown much faster
than the building which houses it. When your ballot comes next week I
hope you will cast your vote for the continued growth of our own Mesa
County Public Library.