As published in the Red Rock News
A fellow entered the Library the other day, and everything he owned was packed inside a dirty, beige, suitcase that he guarded carefully. He smelled like he would love to take a long, hot shower.
A woman strode into the Library, her long, wool coat flapping behind her. Her fragrance suggested that everything she owned was perhaps in a mansion or two located in places faraway and idyllic.
Both patrons were gracious when they asked the Reference Librarian the same question. “Could I use a computer, please?”
The fellow sought a warm place to stay for the night, maybe a meal, or a shower. He’d been sleeping outdoors during a recent cold spell. The woman had lost her mobile and needed to doublecheck a reservation at Enchantment for the weekend.
Both were received with reliable and equal welcome at our Reference Desk, and both hurried to a public computer to accomplish their task. When finished, they took a moment to express gratitude as they left. One with that suitcase in tow, one with that coat now over her arm.
This moment, as so many at Sedona Public Library, speaks to the greatest thing we do. We provide people safe, accessible, warm, reliable service, no questions asked, and always determined to get to the ‘yes.’
Perhaps it was this determination that led to our recent successful fundraising. Reflecting on these things, and entering this new year with hope, albeit with lingering Covid trepidation, brings me pause. I am humbled, and I am grateful.
Of everything I have learned in a career dedicated to non-profit work, my greatest lesson–the one I hold most dear, and the one I need to daily remind myself of—is this: giving begets giving.
Before Christmas, the Plan B Quartet alighted near our large Christmas tree to fill the Library with song. Three children from Thailand sat nearby, dazzled and with “eyes all aglow” as they say, proudly hanging ornaments, enjoying the cookies and cider, and humming along.
Also, just before the holidays, a non-English speaking family of three visiting from Mexico stopped in hopeful to learn some English while in the country, although they were a bit shy. Our librarians welcomed them to hang out, use our computers, visit our exhibits, and more. They read books and magazines and listened to Vox Books, all in Spanish and English.
Viviane Kraus, Children’s Librarian said, “Once I got them to enjoy a story, I knew we were in!” Their discomfort dissipated, and our librarians created an English workbook for them and gave them a map to our bilingual StoryWalk. When they returned a few days later, we provided even more take-home materials.
Whether parents are here because the Library is the designated location for a “supervised visitation,” or because this is where parents learned how to read themselves and now they want their children to learn here, too, they are all always welcome.
Whether a speech pathologist meets a client here because it is safe and offers the necessary privacy, or a long-time patron visits just to enjoy the book displays—“I like this one,” a patron said, pointing to Best of Books of 2021, and then, “The Library is always so fun!”— we are here for you and willing to work with you.
“We work to get to the yes,” explained Judy Poe, Library Director. People come here because it is safe, welcoming, they can just “be.” “It’s what we’re all about.”
You have supported the simple but necessary opportunities and resources we offer. Whoever you are, whether you are a regular user, or don’t have a library card, it doesn’t matter. We are honored that you trust us, and you know there is simply no place as magical and as vital to a community as the Library.
It is often surprising that Sedona Public Library is not a “Qualifying Charitable Organization,” meaning your gift to us isn’t eligible for the Arizona Tax Credit. The reason is simple: We don’t track patrons’ income. Rich or poor, multiple homeowner or homeless, wealthy chef or on a free lunch program, we don’t know and we don’t ask. Our services are for everyone.
Likewise, we do not provide what Arizona considers “basic needs.” That is, we are not a place where folks get food, overnight shelter, sustenance, etc. This confuses some as they see us serving everyone, even those whom they might assume lack or seek “basic needs.” We provide tremendous resources for those who ask how to obtain basic needs, but for this, we don’t earn the revered Arizona Tax Credit eligibility.
Nonetheless, nearly 200 of you gave the Library more than $78,400 in our recent campaign. You understand that what we give to the community cannot be and is not measured by a person’s wealth or ability to read; their country of origin or level of hunger; whether they are tech savvy or tech fearful. We are here for them and for you.
You have made it clear that what we give to the community makes us worthy of your giving back to us. For this we are extremely grateful, and hopeful, without trepidation. Thank you, and Happy New Year!
Sedona Public Library
Column for 1/14/22
Written by Anne Marie Mackler, Development Director
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Library News appears each Friday in the Red Rock News.