Professionally speaking who do you admire? Is there one person or several with whom you feel are simply at the top of their game? Another question, do you have access to them?
Personally, there are many people that come to mind when I think about the first question. And to the second- yes I absolutely have access to these people, because they all reside in one magnificent space. The people who come to mind are Stephen King, Anne Tyler, Thomas Harris, Scott Turow, and Pat Conroy, to name a few. This talented group of writers all live in one place, or at least their words, ie. their brilliant minds do : The library.
And my local library is amazing and quite stunning to look at.
The Art Circle Public Library (ACPL)has quite humble beginnings. “In 1898, a group of ladies known as the Art Circle put their heads together to begin a collection of books, which were originally assembled in the members’ homes,” according to an article given to me by the current Deputy Director. Their collection kept expanding but it wasn’t until March of 1939 that the first official Art Circle Public Library was opened in a former bank building. In 1975 another building was built to hold the still-expanding collection. The library and it’s resources were serving not only Cumberland county, but also the seven surrounding counties.
Skip ahead many years and once again the ACPL needed a much bigger space to call home. After many years of fundraising, on May 3, 2010, the brand new 34,000 square foot building opened its doors (see the above and below pictures).
The new building features two stories, a meeting room that can accommodate 300 people, study rooms, a beautiful children’s section, a catering kitchen, and a medium-sized conference room.Initially the library housed 85,000 items. Meaning books, DVDs, magazines, periodicals, etc. “This number is now at 104,000 and is growing every month,”said Wayne Schobel, who is the Administrative Assistant at the ACPL. Due to the ever increasing amount of items, several years back the library considered no longer carrying paperback books. “We received such flak about this,” said Schobel. Then a local women who was relocating to the west coast contacted the library and asked if she could donate her paperback book collection totaling a mere 9,000 books.
A. That’s amazing
B. I’m totally jealous
C. Truly incredible
Anyway- not knowing what condition these books would be in they, which included not only library staff, but also some Boy Scouts and a UHaul truck, headed over to check them out. Schobel said, “most of the books were in pristine condition. “In addition to the donation of 9,000 books were twenty-three cartons of sheet music.” I guess the paperback books were staying after all. The ACPL continues to serve the seven surrounding counties and offers not only literacy programs, but entertainment and informative programs that greatly benefit this community. September is Tennessee author’s month and many authors will be at this event. Recently a retired Border and Immigration agent came to speak and almost 150 people came to listen. Authors and other speakers know this library is a “venue to get recognized,” [at] said Schobel.
Every month through May 2021 is booked for some type of art exhibit. Currently, quilts made by local Tennesseans are on display hanging from the inside balconies.
ACPL also distributes at no cost to the public, a monthly newspaper/magazine type publication called The BookPage
I try not to miss an issue. The BookPage has so many great articles. Ranging from writing questions, to fiction and non-fiction new book reviews, sections for book clubs, popular author interviews, and so much more. My copy always ends up dog-eared and coffee-ringed.
Libraries are essential for growing communities. Their resources must be utilized and supported. Big or small, old or new, every library is amazing in its own right. They speak softly in voices of the past as well as the present while also allowing you to revel in perfect solitude. Libraries are the stepping stones to turning ideas in to something tangible- and the possibilities are endless.
Below are a few of my favorite quotes about libraries:
Some say they get lost in books, but I find myself, again and again, in the pages of a good book. Humanly speaking, there is no greater teacher, no greater therapist, no greater healer of the soul, than a well-stocked library.
I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.
Jorge Luis Borges
The public library is where place and possibility meet.
But at night, when the library lamps are lit, the outside world disappears and nothing but the space of books remains in existence.
PS. A huge thank you to Wayne Schobel and the others at ACPL who took time out of their day to speak with me when I showed up unannounced and asking crazy book questions.