The Star-Herald

Find connection and healing at the library

In recent years, we’ve been reminded that gathering spaces are critical to the well-being of our citizens. While we didn’t know that we’d experience a pandemic together in our lifetime, we did prepare by creating a space perfectly suited for our recovery: our public library. A space to gather, learn, increase our skills, share ideas, tell our stories, and connect with another is not only meaningful, but it enriches our lives and helps us heal.We need our library. We need it integrated, community-focused, and full of hospitality for our citizens new and old, vacationers, and those searching for a new place to grow their families. It’s so much more than books on shelves. Our library is a living, changing organization that seeks continuous improvement and to be personally relevant to your life. 

Libraries are uniquely designed to provide us this biological need; connecting and engagement. We connect you to resources, information, services, and point access to online places and digital tools but what is more, we connect you with one another. Libraries are spaces that belong to all of the community and what we house within our walls is a mirror of our community. We have, for instance, many books in our local collection about what we harvest and how, our festivals, how we recreate, and how we make a living. Our fiction book collections contain many agrarian and agricultural themed stories with characters and settings that emulate our village – our library grew out of our remote agricultural ancestry and it shows. Our stories are important – they are a handbook for future generations. 

That’s not to say that everyone desires connection at a library, per se, but connection with other humans is one of our non-negotiable facets of self-care that most, if not all of us, need to feel at peace. A place to engage with one another is one of the most important reasons that we nurture, grow, and tend our public libraries. The tools of the trade have changed; our designation of a cultural center and community living room full of relevant resources has not changed. Not even a little. We’re going to need this connection to build a stronger Presque Isle. 

Our collection going forward will also include the story of our pandemic resilience. How did this time period affect us? Libraries collect those stories for generations to come. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll read something we did to cope and apply that to future pandemics. I’d like to think that we’ll continue to learn from history, especially our own, and recording history from our perspective seems culturally good, sustainable even. 

With our gathering space, resources, events, classes, and services, we seek traditional and progressive ways to make your library experience a meaningful and excellent one. Whether you are a reader or not, there should be some reason why your library is personally relevant to you. If it isn’t, we want to know that. If it is, let us know that too. We are stronger together. We are stronger together with a welcoming, gathering space full of resources we need for our future. 

Sonja Plummer Eyler is librarian at the Mark & Emily Turner Memorial Library in Presque Isle. She can be reached at 764-2571 or via email at pimelibrarian@gmail.com.

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