May 24th, 2011

Summer Reading, Take Me Away…

CB052871There are so many places in this big wide world I would like to see and things I’d like to do…and almost as many things to limit my opportunities—limited vacation time, money, skills, not to mention the “get up and go” required.  Travel and opportunity has never been so easily accessible to the masses, but for many, it still exists more as a dream than reality.

For me, the beauty of the library is the way it can extend one’s view of the horizon and also allow one to dive into the depths of the human soul.  Check out the right book, magazine, or movie, and you can be magically transported to other places, other times, even to “other lives.”  This year’s summer reading theme, “One World, Many Stories” celebrates the universal while recognizing the uniqueness of the individual.

Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world.

Now, this is not to instigate a debate over the merits of one over another.  Rather, it is an invitation to embrace the world you imagine.  For many of us, summer promises freedom….from school, work (well, maybe a week or two), heavy clothes, heating bills, shoes and socks, etc.  Let the library’s summer reading program guide you to a place where you are free to dream, learn, explore, and experience new and uncharted territory.  Summer vacationers of all ages can embark on voyages of their dreams and the only ticket required is a library card; the only passport needed—imagination.

Between June 1 and August 1, the library offers reading incentive programs for all, from babies to babushkas.  Adults can explore Novel Destinations; teens—You are Here; and One World, Many Stories for young children.

Don’t fret if you’re missing out on the African safari this summer or won’t be going walkabout in the land down under.  The library staff, with support from The  Friends of the Library, have arranged to bring the sights, sounds, and flavors of the world to you.  From the mountains to the prairies, Didgeridoos to shaker eggs, and French crepes to tacos—widen your world at your library.

Visit your neighborhood branch or look online for a calendar or events, or click here to register for summer reading.

What’s the voyage our your dreams this summer? Leave us a comment and we’ll suggest a few items from our collection that can get you started on your journey!


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May 20th, 2011

Libraries: Creating a Better Future for Our County and Citizens

Denise READ PosterWhen I came to Cecil County to lead our public library system in 2001, the community was examining how best to lay a foundation for the success and well-being of our citizens, communities, and businesses in the 21st century.   One of the strongest messages was that our economic success would be based in large part on the quality of our county’s education system.   In the 21st century, businesses that offer good salaries and benefits would locate in counties where the workforce is educated and engaged in lifelong learning.  Those well-educated employees would demand the best of their county’s educational institutions for themselves and their families.  Although the recession set us back, it is not a reason to give up on our aspirations.

As we now emerge from recession, my hope is that we can reflect on the valuable insights of those discussions and, as part of our plan to facilitate strong economic and community advancement, protect funding for education.

One of the strengths of public libraries is how quickly they can adapt their educational services to any era to give our citizens and communities an edge.  Literally tens of thousands of Cecil County citizens are using Cecil County Public Library for exactly that reason today.  We have focused intently on job and career skills, teaching basic computer usage for the newly unemployed, and giving our small businesses a competitive advantage as they work to survive and grow.  And we have reinforced our outreach to our community’s children – introducing them to the powerful library services that underwrite success in school, work and life.  These are the kinds of services we mean when we say lifelong learning.

Cecil County Public Library now has 55,900 active users.  Library usage continues to grow.  I am very proud of how much value we provide to so many citizens with just 2.7% of the county budget.

Cecil County citizens care deeply about their public library.  In 2010, more than 1,000 of our citizens wrote to the County Commissioners telling them why their public library system is a lifeline for themselves, their families, and their communities, and many are writing once again.  Several Cecil County business owners have written the County Commissioners this year about how the library’s high quality business reference services were critical to their opening and growing small businesses in Cecil County.  One new business now has 15 employees!

We take the economic challenges of the recession very seriously.  Our library budget has been essentially flat for two years.  During that time, we have eliminated about 5% of our positions—a percentage comparable to other education agencies, renegotiated contracts, raised fines and fees, and eliminated an entire service, “This Way to Books.”   But we have preserved the quality of our library’s educational services, our book budget, and the hours of operation in every branch by working harder and smarter, as well as squeezing budget lines.

The proposed county budget would reduce public library funding by 4%.  We really hope to avoid that cut.  We ask that the County Commissioners restore half the reduction in library funding.  If the Commissioners can take that step, we can develop a Fiscal Year 2012 budget that preserves our book budget at the FY 2011 level.   I sincerely thank them for their efforts, and I pledge that the library will continue to make a difference, creating a better future for our county and its citizens.

Denise Davis is the director of the Cecil County Public Library system. Contact her at ddavis@ccplnet.org.


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