As We See It

Henderson libraries on the ballot this November. Are they worth it?


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Anyone who wandered the vast mountains of knowledge and information at their public library while young can appreciate Annie Dillard’s public library recollections in An American Childhood. It was, of course, so charmingly 20th century, long before e-books, Amazon and the multimedia options that blow out our senses at every turn. Clearly libraries can’t hold relevance in this century, at least not physically, now that the card catalog is digitized and e-books can be checked out far from any library’s front door.

So when Henderson residents vote in November on whether to pay 2 cents per $100 of assessed property value to save two of the city’s libraries, we’ve gotta admit that the whopping $14 a year (for a $200,000 property) hardly seems worth skipping three lattes. Yet supporters are ardent, pushing the cause that would keep open all six Henderson libraries, already chagrined that branches have been closed on Sundays and, in some cases, Saturdays and Mondays, too.

Why the fuss over a floundering tradition? We stop in at Paseo Verde Library on a Saturday afternoon to see. But where to park? The lot is nearly full. Visitors are coming and going.

Logo supporting Question 1

Inside, the Friends of Henderson Libraries book sale (across from the busy Authors Café) puts me back $14 for 10 fantastic art history books that I must take out to my car before I return to survey exactly how dead this place is. Back inside, however, I’m distracted by all the activity, the excitement, the genuine desire to feed the brain.

So this is where everyone is. Suburban streets are often empty. As it turns out, everyone’s at the library, a sort of bustling Main Street for the community where kids weigh weekly reading options, adults meander the stacks (actual books in arms), study, use the computers, meet in conference rooms or sift through the multitude of program and event materials. It’s a similar scene at Green Valley Library near closing time. Hordes are exiting while others rush in to catch the last 10 minutes of a valued experience.

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Kristen Peterson

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