Community Libraries Are The Solution

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Roy, I haven't been to the downtown library since my grade through high school best friend retired from there. However, it's a misrepresentation to say the city of Chattanooga doesn't pay a dime to Erlanger since city property owners pay both city and county taxes. You must do better to drive home your point. 

I think the solution to libraries, giving children the opportunity to become better readers, is one that's been around since I was a young obsessive reader in grade school in the '60s. 

Community libraries are the solution, Roy. When I was growing up present day Howard School actually had two fully functional libraries in walking distance for young folks to easily get to. One library at Howard was used for high school, and the other for the local surrounding community six days a week. It's at that community section library one of my grade school friends and I became hooked on Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mystery novels and author Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God and Jonah's Gourd Vine, along with quite a number of other books and authors that now escapes me. 

We self taught and studied Latin. Then we accidentally stumbled upon a unique concept about the Latin language. We learned through our self taught Latin we could write our own definition by using Latin root words then compare our findings to word meanings in the dictionary. And were amazed to realize our own definitions were correct and actually similar to dictionary definitions. 

It became a game and challenge to select a specific letter from an encyclopedia and just read, mostly about other countries and its customs and peoples. Through those encyclopedias and other books we traveled to distance lands and learned about other customs, cultures and people sitting on the floor of that library with our backs against a wall than we ever expected to one day get to visit.

What made it all so enjoyable the most, Roy, it was all natural and not forced. When children are forced, berated, threatened and punished they tend to shutdown and tune out. The ability to learn and retain information becomes impossible. When children are relaxed, feel secure in their surroundings they tend to soak up and retain information like a sponge soaking up water. The information they retain last a lifetime. 

Saturdays were especially exciting at that community based library at Howard. Being in walking distance and opened to the surrounding neighborhood, children couldn't wait to go there. There were cartoons to watch on Saturday mornings and snacks were provided. We were allowed to help and clean up afterwards. By noon we'd be off to some next outside adventure, playing, exploring, creating and learning naturally sometimes using tools and ideas we'd picked up from reading at the library. 

Those old things that worked, that inspired and provoked curiosity and creativity in children need to be incorporated into and alongside modern day technology. That's the solution, Roy. Attacking the city and spreading misinformation serve no valuable purpose other than to stir up unnecessary controversy and dissension. 

Brenda Washington 


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