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Libraries strengthen our community

From The Desk of Mary Ellen

Celebrate National Library Week April 7-13

This week, Stark Library joins libraries nationwide in celebrating the valuable role libraries, librarians, and library workers play in transforming lives and communities. Libraries are one of the cornerstones of democracy, promoting the free exchange of information and ideas for all. Andrew Carnegie believed in this so strongly that in the early 20th Century he donated money to build more than 2,500 libraries throughout the United States, including Stark Library. Carnegie’s gift came with one stipulation: Over the door the words “Open to All” would be imprinted.

That philosophy still drives who Stark Library is today more than 100 years later. Each of our neighborhood branches and our Main branch strengthen the communities they are in by offering opportunities for everyone to read, create, socialize, and grow, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, creed, ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or socioeconomic status. At Stark Library, all are welcome.

When the community comes together, everyone thrives. Our buildings serve as the community’s living room, where all people can come together and connect. On any day in our libraries you might see a parent bringing in their toddler for a story time program, connecting with other parents, a recently laid off employee learning how to master Excel for future job opportunities, teenagers working on a group school project, a group of individuals coming together to discuss a book they’ve just read, people knitting projects to help the underserved in our community, a class of individuals learning how to build a computer, and senior citizens downloading patterns to use on embroidery machines.

This week, we held an author event as part of The Dr. Audrey Lavin Speaking of Books Author Series. The purpose of these events is to inspire culture, raise awareness of literary excellence and to facilitate relevant and at times challenging conversations in our community. We welcomed former astronaut, Mike Massimino, who spoke to a sold out crowd, inspiring all to pursue their passions and overcome obstacles to reach their dreams. Even if the odds are one in a million, your dream is still within reach. Later this year we will be bringing in authors to speak of addictions and how we, as a community, can support those in crisis.

Other programs at Stark Library encourage community members to meet and discuss important issues, learn how to use new technologies, discover new interests, or develop skills for a new career. We also partner with other local organizations to actively engage with the people we serve, always striving to make sure their community’s core needs are being met.

Of course, we will always have books, ebooks, materials, and resources that you expect to see at the library, but we also continue to surprise and delight with the unexpected. We offer critical access to free public use computers, free Wifi access, and other innovative technologies. Our “Library of Things” includes Wifi hotspots for those on the go, 3D printers, projectors, video games, radon detectors, and even bicycles through our BikeSmart program.

Stark Library’s mission is “to spark curiosity and foster knowledge by connecting everyone to resources, services, and opportunities.” All of the work that we do is for one reason: To serve our community. Every day Stark Library staff touches the lives of individuals in our community by fulfilling our commitment to lifelong learning, literacy, and reading. We provide educational programs to help children get ready for school, we offer job-related services like computer skills training, resume writing, and job searching, and we visit every preschool, school, and senior center in our service area through our outreach programs and bookmobiles.

As you can see, libraries are as vital and essential as ever. I invite you to visit Stark Library and celebrate National Library Week with us. Explore our collections, attend a program, meet your community members, and thank a librarian. We exist for you and we are proud to serve and transform the Stark County community. 

 - Mary Ellen Icaza, Stark Library CEO