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Tim Lindberg: Morris Public Library is a true community space

MORRIS – This summer the Morris Public Library found itself the unlucky victim of a confluence of events that led to the flooding of a large portion of the interior of the building. While damage to library holdings were limited, the resulting process of removing damaged walls and carpeting and replacing them meant that for most of the summer there was no access to the building, including the internet access that a number of Morris residents rely upon. The librarians worked valiantly to provide access to the collection, as much as possible, through online requests, but driving up to the side of the library as though it were a drive-through fast food restaurant was not appealing and did not provide some of the most meaningful services that the library offers.

Public libraries are community spaces. Offering borrowing services on books is hardly their only or primary benefit to the public. They loan out movies and audio books as well. They put together story time sessions for children, author events for all ages, and movie matinees. There are numerous computers available, with internet access, that are used by community members to contact family, search for jobs, and connect to greater sources of information. There is a significant Spanish language book section, a growing graphic novel collection, and a strong assortment of the newest bestsellers. The only requirement to use these services is that you live in the community (and can provide nominal proof of this).

In my position as the President of the Friends of the Morris Library board, I understand how important this resource is to our community, more so now that it has been largely unavailable for months. The shutdown affected our group directly by postponing our annual Book Sale, which usually occurs during Prairie Pioneer Days. We were delayed, but not deterred in this. Our sale will now be this upcoming weekend, during the day and into early evening on Friday, Sept. 5 and Saturday, Sept. 6. Just as in past years, we will be selling, at very low cost, thousands of items, including DVDs, bestseller paperbacks, children’s books, romance novels, classics in fiction, and much more.

The proceeds from the sale are used by the Friends of the Morris Library to assist the library in a variety of ways. Just in the past few years, the Friends have purchased new headphones to use with the public computers, a mobile coat rack for the community room, display shelves, coverings for the children’s furniture, a number of graphic novels, etc. The Friends provide refreshments at many of the library-sponsored events and we threw a birthday party for Frodo and Bilbo Baggins in the summer of 2013 complete with cake, costumed characters, and a movie showing.

As the library has now recently reopened to the public, I encourage all of you to visit. Whether you frequented it before the summer shutdown occurred, have rarely visited it, or are new to the community, come see what this great resource has to offer. The library will be holding an Open House, to celebrate the reopening of the building, on Tuesday, Sept. 9, from 4 to 6 p.m. There will be a guest book to sign as well as refreshments. Come talk to the staff, check out the new carpet and ceiling, and sign out a book or a movie.

The Morris Public Library is one of the few places in town that is truly ours as a community. We own it. We pay for it to operate. We should use it, care for it, and nurture it. Please support the library, and your own community, by visiting the library. Come to the Friends of the Morris Library sale next weekend, the Open House on Tuesday, Sept. 9, or any other time to see what resources are available. Tell the staff how much you appreciate the library. This is our library, together.