Lib. board member says vote ‘yes’

Dear Editor,
I begin my letter with transparency. I am the newest member of the Oxford Library Board of Trustees, having been elected last November. I am also a recently retired librarian after serving more than 40 years in 3 public libraries, 2 university libraries, and 2 corporate libraries, thanks to my husband getting transferred multiple times! So it’s no surprise I support the library and its proposed bond for a building expansion. But before you stop reading, please let me explain why I support a library expansion and why I supported it as an ordinary citizen even before I joined the library board.
I believe we all have an interest in a well-educated and well-skilled community. Studies show multiple benefits for well educated/skilled individuals, including higher income levels and greater job opportunities/satisfaction. We also have an interest in our home values. People buying a new home usually consider the community’s amenities, desiring great schools and cultural/educational opportunities. We benefit when our community is educated/skilled and a desirable place to live.
Our community has grown almost 35% since I moved to Oxford in 2000. New subdivisions were built and new families moved in. The number of students in our schools increased 45% in those years. We upgraded our school system with a new high school and renovated K-8 schools to meet those needs. Waterstone is currently building a new section of homes, and other subdivisions have been approved–more people are coming!
Today’s libraries are an important partner in educating our children. Research shows that reading and math skills are the most important predictors of a child’s future academic success. Children who aren’t reading well by the third grade are 4 times more likely to drop out of high school, a terrible waste and a potential drain on our economy. Literacy begins long before kindergarten and the first few grades. Educators encourage parents to expose their child to 1,000 books before the child enters kindergarten. The library plays a huge part in the literacy effort by providing storytime and other activities as well as access to numerous books and educational toys. Resources are also available for special needs children and their parents. However, the services our library staff can provide children and their parents is limited by the amount of available space in the children’s department.
When I review the proposed expansion, I see the majority of space is for people and their activities, not collections. The children’s department would be enlarged to provide more space for both studying and group activities such as storytime. In the adult area, more group and individual study/meeting spaces are being added. These spaces are an essential need In today’s world where more adults are working or studying from home, and quiet places to work or meet with others are needed.
Our current library was designed in the mid-90s, almost 30 years ago. Things have changed. Our community has grown, people now work and study in groups. People are working from home. “People space” is crucial. Our library needs to change with the times.
Our community deserves a library that meets the needs of our citizens today and into the future, not just meeting the needs of the past.
For more information, I encourage you to look at the plans online at miopl.org/library-bond-proposal or attend the next information meeting at the library on Thursday, October 28 at 10:30 a.m.
Barbara Kriigel

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