SOMETIMES A LIBRARY teaches its users to think inside the box, such as this Ripon Public Library fall-themed “Not a box” storytime led by children’s librarian Linda DeCramer. 	         							    Taylor Pierce photo
SOMETIMES A LIBRARY teaches its users to think inside the box, such as this Ripon Public Library fall-themed “Not a box” storytime led by children’s librarian Linda DeCramer. Taylor Pierce photo

     Suggesting a community library is non-essential is akin to kicking your mother in the shins and swapping a slice of apple pie for a second helping of vegetables.

     Mom and apple pie and public libraries are all-American for the same reasons: they make people stronger, smarter and more wholesome.

     So when Ald. Joel Brockman suggested in an email to the Ripon Common Council last week that the Ripon Public Library is “the largest non-essential service the city supports,” he poked the proverbial beehive with his stinging words.  

     About a dozen library advocates showed up at City Hall for last week’s budget meeting to dispute Brockman’s sentiment.

     Put emotion aside for a minute. Sit in a quiet place (a library community room, perhaps). Consider what Brockman wrote.

     He’s right.

     The library is not an essential service in the sense that people could die without it. The same cannot be said about the ambulance, police and fire departments.

     The city could endure without the library’s vast collection of books, recorded music, genealogical records, DVDs, newspaper archives, toy library, obituary database, new donated piano, storytime for children as well as programming for all ages, periodicals, internet terminals, digitization of the Pedrick Collection (literally Ripon’s history), cemetery records, as well as “bibliotherapy” — information about pregnancy, adoption, marriage and divorce, mental and behavioral health, and other medical issues — that provides a first stop before seeking professional services.  

     The community could survive without all of those.

     But it would not thrive. ...

                                       — Tim Lyke

     To read the entire editorial, including a list of the many ways the library serves all ages, income-levels and interests, see the Oct. 18, 2018 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.