I am relatively new to a professional career in libraries. Growing up, I was a voracious reader who tore through all the fiction I could get my hands on, so though I am no stranger to libraries themselves, I have only been working professionally in a library setting for a few months. As National Library Week comes to an end, I have some thoughts and reflections.
Something I fear is that when people hear the word “library,” the image they conjure is that of an old, dusty, derelict building where the staff are ancient and hanging over your shoulder, ready to shush you if you speak above a whisper. The reality truly couldn’t be farther from the truth. Community libraries have been striving to transform and adapt to the ever-changing modern world, and I believe that is reflected in the resources and programs available to the community. The public library is one of the last truly free public spaces. In the library, there is no expectation for you to buy something. In the library, there is no barrier to services such as free wifi, public restrooms, a public telephone, and use of a desktop computer. The library is truly created and maintained to serve as a community resource, with anyone and everyone from the community welcome at all times. How many businesses and public spaces can say that? It’s like the equivalent of a public park, but indoors and temperature-regulated. The library is a warm (or cool), clean, safe space to gather with others or alone. That is something so rare and special today that I just want to shout from the rooftops to encourage the community to come in and see for themselves.
I am not a quiet person. I have a loud, carrying voice, and I have a tendency to sing or hum out loud without realizing it. You would think that the library is the least-welcome place for someone like me to spend their days. In truth, the past few months I have had the honor of working here have been some of the happiest of my life. I hope you’ll stop in the Lake Region Public Library sometime and say hello, or watch a movie with us, or attend a program, or find a book that reignites your love of reading.
Maddie Cummings is the Director of Outreach and Innovation at the Lake Region Public Library. Maddie has degrees in musical theatre and music, and was the Program Manager at the Empire Arts Center in Grand Forks before moving to Devils Lake. She lives with her husband, dogs, and cats near downtown and couldn’t be more thrilled to be here.