Letter to the Editor July 6, 2016

Letter to the Editor:
Saturday, July 2nd, I finally fulfilled a dream I had since I read the March 28, 2010 article in the Star Tribune called “Maple Lake Library Refused to be Shelved.” I grew up in Maple Lake in the 1940’s and 50’s and longingly wished we had a library in town. At St. Timothy’s grade school that I attended, they (thankfully) had a small library, but I was a voracious reader and could never get enough books. I wanted to read so many more books than were available to me. My parents bought us some books, but our family of twelve had lots of other more pressing needs at the time. As a kid, I read about cities that had wonderful big libraries and always wished our town would have been lucky enough to have one. So my heart was thrilled that some wonderful residents wanted to start a Maple Lake library and though turned down by the Great River Regional Library Board, wouldn’t let that stop them from starting their own library. Volunteers stepped up to do the fundraising, gather donated books, find a rental space, set up and staff the library for six years now – no small task. Dedicated volunteers started and have kept this Library operating and even expanding programs! Back in 2010 when I first read that article, I made a promise to myself I would visit that dream-come-true-library and would make a donation to it. So this past Saturday, my husband drove me to Maple Lake and with my recently improved ability to walk, I was finally able to fulfill that dream. I met wonderful volunteers there, looked around and my heart was thrilled to see my hometown finally had the library I had longed for so much when I was a child. Access to books for a child opens whole worlds and plants dreams that often are fulfilled when that child grows up. I think libraries are such a vital resource to all ages.
I read in the Maple Lake Messenger that there is an upcoming City Council vote being considered to either use land down the street for another city park or to sell it to a business, Lake Central Financials, who might also provide space for the Maple Lake Library to expand into, as well as provide a community meeting room, another strong asset for the community.
I would urge decision makers to consider placing their priority of using the park the City already has in a centrally located part of town to serve as the proposed Town Square Park. It seems the existing park would be an ideal location for a farmers market, community events, concerts, etc. with just a few minor upgrades, and thereby allow the City to consider the sale of the lot to the business seeking to purchase it if they are serious about offering space for the Library to expand into, as well as their offer of a community meeting room. The Library finding more space downtown would be an enormous help for a community resource that has already proved its many benefits to the City’s residents with a well-run operation.
I’ll close with a quote from Andrew Carnegie who was once the richest man in the world. Coming as a dirt poor kid from Scotland to the U.S., by the 1880s he’d built an empire in steel — and then gave it all away: $60 million to fund a system of 1,689 public libraries across the country. “A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never failing spring in the desert.” ― Andrew Carnegie
Thank you for your consideration,
Patricia Schoenecker