Public libraries are a gift
Entering the holiday season, gifts are at the forefront of our minds. How can we find just the right items to demonstrate our care and appreciation for those in our lives? As a mother of young children, I'm caught between wanting to provide an expansive array of gifts that will delight my kids and a desire to counter consumer culture, pay heed to the environment and stick to our budget. Good to know the Friends of the Library are running a Gift Book Sale at the library for the next couple of weeks — I've found some great treasures that my kids will love.
I've been listening to the audiobook recording of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by botanist and enrolled Potawatomi Nation author Robin Wall Kimmerer. One of the primary themes of the book is considering the Earth and all its gifts, as well as our responsibility as receivers of these gifts. Kimmerer writes, "We are showered every day with gifts, but they are not meant for us to keep. Their life is in their movement, the inhale and the exhale of our shared breath. Our work and our joy is to pass along the gift and to trust that what we put out into the universe will always come back."
Reciprocity is a key element in gift-giving — whether through a heartfelt thank-you or a gift given in exchange. At the library we regularly deal in gifts and reciprocity; the hard-earned taxpayer dollar is filtered through the county budget to fund our gem of a small-town library. To be good stewards of this gift, the library sets a strategic path to give the best return on investment to area residents, particularly those who may be underserved or have difficulty accessing traditional library services. We are currently in a pilot project phase with Words on Wheels, a new service that offers monthly home delivery of library materials to those who, due to medical circumstances, are unable to visit us in person. To learn more about Words on Wheels, give us a call at (541) 447-7978.
Our redesigned children's room gives children and caregivers alike the gift of a community space to play, learn and socialize. Our fireplace gives patrons the gift of light and warmth on dreary winter days. Books themselves are a gift — stories and information collected to support community interests as well as expand our world views. During the month of December, we are collecting literal gifts. Our Tree of Joy is decorated with tags listing the wishes of local recipients, and we have donation boxes to collect additional toys, clothing and food so we can share our abundance with our neighbors.
Our Winter Reading Program kicks off this week! Folks of all ages can visit the library and pick up a bingo-style game card that will let you explore the various gifts of the library and engage with your friends and family. Complete one row for bingo and claim a prize of even more gifts!
We at the library hope that everyone in our community can find light this holiday season. Let us consider the great variety of gifts we all have to offer, for as Kimmerer says, "The most important thing each of us can know is our unique gift and how to use it in the world."
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