Thank you to the Edgewood librarians for inviting me to share my history with you all. The new library is indeed a wonderful facility. And to quote an old hippie phrase, “We’ve come a long way, baby.” The town has managed to take and make a warm and welcoming presence her in Edgewood, extending the ideas and fellowship that people with vision put forth years ago. There is a rumor three guys and a beer thought up to do a library. I don’t know—it was a little before my time. A round of applause for the council, staff and mayor.
My involvement with this library came about as a result of my friendship with the first director, Anne Dacie Lucas. With a Master’s degree in Library Science, she got this little collection of books state certified. She worked very hard for over 12 years. She loked boosk, I liked books—who didn’t? Little did I know I would become hooked. I joined the board and then worked for 15 years as the summer reading program person. The only problem I ever had was when the library was in the shopping center next to Hug a Horse. I came as a mermaid, my tail got stuck in the door and I tripped and did a faceplant in the gravel holding a fish bowl. The kids came running and one said, “We better get the fish some more water.” The fish nearly died, but they saved it. It took me two weeks to get the gravel out.
As a high school teacher, little kids were not what I dealt with. However, in the summer we had kids from 3 to 12. We ended up in the community center. I told stories, read, did arts and crafts and filled those kids so full of sugar they looked like little spinning tops as they went to their cars. Not the only villain, lots of moms brought treats and eventually we hooked up with the Moriarty summer lunch program. They came and fed everyone.
With lots of stuffed animals, we did puppet shows or spur-of-the-moment plays, with the kids as stars. The kids kept a diary of what they read over the summer. The program kept growing. We had older kids that had been little come and help out the younger ones. Finally, we decided to go Big. We had Lords and Ladies of the Reading Table and everyone dressed up for the Fairy Tale Ball. Mothers made costumes for the annual event. This was the Big Time.
After the shopping center, Mark Jensen lent us a house. It was fun to decorate for Mardi Gras parties and we got iced tea on the carpet. It was joyful to make friends with librarians, and the late Carol Ann Bowman filled that square. She liked to help with storytelling. Carol Ann went on to help with the melodrama program we established at Wildlife West. The library and the Edgewood Lions expanded the kids’ outreach program in literacy by co-sponsoring plays at Wildlife West. Library kids rode on parade floats for the town. Teenagers became involved. It was the time of volunteers.
And now we have the kind of support from the town of Edgewood that many dreamed of years ago. This fabulous facility is the kind you read about—but no more fairy tales, this is reality. Many of those who dreamed this are names we remember for their hard work and vision: Carol Ann Bowman, Ray Lucas, John Suda, Debbie Blechinger, Rosemary Barsin, and who can forget the flea markets with Charlie Bruin? We had no budget, but we had the hearts, ideas and fun of many here in Edgewood. A library is a community, it is wonder, it is adventure, it helps dreams come true. It saves people. When I was 15, the Hoffmantown Library was a sanctuary for me when my parents were going through a divorce. And when I taught middle school, a young man came to my classroom. He kind of looked like a frail Harry Potter with big glasses, so we will call him Harry. Every day during that class for nine weeks, he would ask to go to the library, and every day I gave him a pass. At the end of term when they passed out report cards, no Harry. The librarian gave me a letter from Harry. It read, “Mrs. White, thank you so much for allowing me to go to the library every day. When I grow up, I am going to have a house with a living room just like the library. It will have a sofa and coffee table, two side tables with lamps and a big easy chair. There will be a rug on the floor. I am sorry I can’t come to home room any more. We had to leave.” And it was signed, “All my best, Harry.” You see, Harry was living in his mother’s car behind a bar. His mom worked in the bar but I believe she was hiding from her ex. It has been 15 years since that time. I hnope with all my heart Harry has a home and I hope he finds a library to visit as nice as ours. Edgewood Community Library touched my heart, and probably yours, too. Good luck, and on to the next adventures.