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National Library Week April 9-15: Libraries Transform

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This week, Camp Verde Community Library is supposed to be joining libraries nationwide to celebrate some of the ways libraries are transforming their communities every day through the services and invaluable expertise they offer. April 9-15 is National Library Week, a time, according to the American Library Association, to highlight the changing role of libraries, librarians and library workers.  And, it’s true, Libraries are more than a place of quiet study. They are also creative and engaging community centers where people collaborate using new technologies, grow alliances, maybe learn how to build a 3D printer or even listen to Music in the Stacks. As libraries evolve, so librarians are tasked with learning new skills and generally keeping up with the changes.

The goal is to use the “Libraries Transform” campaign to remind our community of some of the groundbreaking work we are doing, highlight the amazing resources we have, and explain the useful services or skills we provide. All true! But, it feels like a message for another time and place. In my mind, National Library Week is the one week of the year when we get to express gratitude to our community for all the support we are given, for how so many of you come into our library every week with good cheer and good will, and for the fact that the work of supporting the Library in Camp Verde did not end with the move into this beautiful new place we work in and from. There’s no truer statement in the campaign then, “Because of You. Libraries Transform.”

Just over five months ago, we moved from our small, battered, but loved 45,000 square foot, 40+ year-old library into this brand new building designed for both beauty and functionality. It was a bit like moving from an old barn into a mansion. In these five months, many people have told me what a great job I did, how we wouldn’t be where we are today if I hadn’t come along at the right time, and how proud I should be of what I’ve accomplished. And, I am proud. But not of myself. I realize that I have played only a small part in the decades-long work required to get this library built. I’m proud of our community, honored to be part of the effort that put us where we are today.  Also, really glad that all the crazy work of building and moving is done and I can begin to catch up in places I have been neglecting, like writing this blog.

When I take a moment to brag on the Library, know that I am bragging on you, Camp Verde. Libraries are evolving to meet the needs of the communities they serve but not every library is as fortunate as we are to have a community of individuals supporting them, advocating for them, keeping them on their toes. The library embraces the entire community, offering unlimited opportunities for personal growth and lifelong learning. Libraries level the playing field for people of any age who are seeking the information and access to technologies that will improve their quality of life. Libraries also offer something unique to their communities, the expertise of individual librarians. Librarians assist patrons in using increasingly complex technology and sorting through the potentially overwhelming mass of information bombarding today’s digital society. This is especially crucial when access to reliable and trustworthy data is more important than ever. If, at Camp Verde Community Library, we are transforming lives in any way, shape or form, it is, because of you.

Because of you, we have much to be grateful for, and I am hard pressed to express our thanks adequately, especially when seen in the light of all you have given. I am reluctant to start thanking people by name because nearly everyone in this Town has given to the library in one way or another and I have no doubt I will leave someone out. Whether you bought a bottle of “library water” or “attended” the Phantom Ball, donated books to the library or bought them at a book sale, walked away with a once-in-a-lifetime find at the auction or donated to for sale. Or, maybe you just said, “keep the change,” when paying for overdue fines. We wouldn’t be where we are today without your support and we thank you.

Deep breath. Here goes, naming a few key people who got this whole project going… starting in 2000 with the vision of the charter members of the Camp Verde Library Endowment (CVLE). Thanks to Yona Ash, Betty Chester, Phil England, Vaudene Glotfelty, Pat Hjalmarson, Vada Lovato, Baltazar Lozano, Sharon Massey, Fred Sanchez and, driven forward by Dorothy Wood, the original investment of a couple $10K  has grown to nearly $420K. Thanks to people like Charlie & Linda German, Larry & Jeannett Teets, Alice Derrick and Ann Martin, Jim Ash, Laura Gagnon & Co., Irene Peoble, Ambie Charles, Diana Hopper, Debbie Schwalie, Amber Polo, former Library Director, Gerry Laurito, and so many more – for keeping “Dorothy’s Dream” alive. “Because of you. Libraries transform.”

Then, in 2008 Linda Harkness and Charlie German started the Citizens Committee for Camp Verde Library (CCCVL) a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated specifically to building a new building. Board members, Linda, Karen Heuman and Judy Feldstein set themselves the task of growing a $250K donation from the Kay Watkins’ estate by Camp Verde resident, Larry Watkins into what would become more than $417K presented to the Town of Camp Verde eight years later. Thank you! It is, “Because of you. Libraries transform.”

We thank you for every fundraiser, every Denim & Lace auction, every letter written and envelope sealed, every cookie baked, every picture taken, every design drawn, every cent collected, counted and deposited toward our account. Only you know the hard work, the sweat and aching muscles, the tenacity required to finish the job, the exhaustion at the end of the night. We appreciate the sacrifice each one of you made so that “Dorothy’s Dream” of a modern library with more capacity to serve the community and the funds to make it happen could become a reality. “Because of you. Libraries transform.”

And still, the all-volunteer work continues every day. In addition to those who have donated dollars to us, there is a tireless group of volunteers we will never be able to repay or adequately thank. These are the people who get into the nitty-gritty of our daily work, people who  have committed their time and expertise to meet our scheduled needs week after week throughout the year. From the volunteers who work at the circulation desk to the newly formed 501(c)3, Friends of Camp Verde Library Board and Book Nook volunteers, every single minute given to us makes a difference. In the past 6 months, we averaged 46 volunteers/month giving 740 hours/month. That’s an incredibly generous gift of time and energy from people who have many other interests and obligations.

Others like, Camp Verde’s Tree Advisory Committee designed and planted the Library grounds. The men fondly called, “the Old Guys,” have been seen weeding, refurbishing benches, and putting flowers in our planters. One young mom is voluntarily tending our Monarch Way Station and seeding the area with wild flowers. Our community is giving to us in ways we cannot even count. Though it sounds trite, truly, we would not be where we are or do what we do without you. Thank you for all that you do for us, Camp Verde! It is “Because of you. Libraries transform.”