My Thoughts On A New Library For Nobles County

I woke up from my afternoon nap on Sunday, and before I’d even gotten off of the couch, I was struck by something I’d contemplated before: the fact that I, at the newly-minted age of 43, have turned into my mother.

At least a little bit.

I distinctly remember thinking, thirty some years ago – as I watched my parents go off to their Sunday afternoon naps – “They are the craziest people ever. Who on earth would want to sleep Sunday afternoon away?”

Boy, do I understand now.

There are other ways in which I resemble my mother.

I am outspoken about things I care about.

I will never forget my mom’s frustrations with the school board. I didn’t know then – and I still don’t know now – what her exact beef was with the board, I just remember that whatever it was bothered her enough that she couldn’t keep quiet about it.

She had to speak up. She had to do what she could to make them change their minds.

Well, fast-forward a few decades and here I am: trying to convince a governing board to see things my way. Only this time it’s not the school board and this time it’s not my mother: it’s me.

On Tuesday morning, as the sun broke through the fog on a chilly Minnesota January morning, I stood – okay, sat – before the newly-sworn-in board of Nobles County Commissioners and presented my thoughts on the question of a new library for our county.

The fact that I like books ought to be clear to anyone who knows anything about me. The truth is, however, libraries today are about so much more than shelves full of books. They’re about information. They’re about computers. They’re about help and and tax forms and service and English as a Second Language. They’re about children, and story time and Easter egg hunts. They’re about teenagers fitting into society. They’re about book clubs and poetry readings and yoga. They’re about community.

I didn’t use those exact words before the board – perhaps I ought to have – instead I told a couple stories, as I am want to do – and I threw in a few facts, and I shared my Most Surreal Moment of my Life tale – always a favorite of mine. I came before the board as the chair of the Friends of the Library, but really I spoke to them just as little old me, nothing fancy. Mostly I just wanted to say something worth hearing. Something that wasn’t a waste of time. Something that made my point.

And what was my point? That we need a new library building in our county and we’d like the county to build it. We have out-grown our space, and, with 350-400 people (on average) using our facility every day, we have out-grown our building which is, by the way, older than I am.

I – and all of our supporters who were present at the board meeting that morning – are pleased with the board’s decision to seriously look into this issue – to nail down the space, size, scope and location – and that they set a realistic date to have this done by, that being April 15th. I want to thank the board for not letting this issue fade away. I did not expect the Capital Improvement Plan to be approved on Tuesday, the first day in office for 3/5ths of the county board. Who would approve a multi-million dollar building project on their first day in office?

I am exceedingly glad, therefore, that the board did not sweep the issue under the rug and for that I thank them. I am confident that when the April deadline comes along they will look at the information fairly and logically and make a wise decision.

What can we do while the county and the library folks get their ducks in order? We can begin by giving money to the Nobles County Library Foundation, established under the Worthington Area Foundation. This will show the county that people are serious about wanting this library and that they are willing to pony up to do so. This is the largest fund raising goal that the Worthington Area Foundation has ever committed to, and we are very excited to see how it goes!

If you’re interested, checks may be brought directly to the library and made out to “NCL Foundation”, or they can be mailed to:

Worthington Area Foundation
P.O. Box 373
Worthington, MN 56187
(507) 372-2919

Thanks, everyone. Here’s to a new library in our county!

3 Responses

  1. Well written and well said, Gretchen. As someone who grew up in southwestern Minnesota, in a small town (Vesta) without a library, you know how much I value libraries. A lot. All I ever wanted for my hometown as a child and teen was a library. That became reality this past summer when a Little Free Library was donated to the community, after bookmobile service was terminated during budget cuts. I could go on and on. But suffice to say the locals have embraced the LFL with additional bookshelves set up inside the community-owned cafe.

    So when you talk libraries and books and all that libraries offer to communities, I stand on the soapbox beside you.

    Kudos to you and your library board for seeing the need and doing something about it.

  2. I cannot imagine growing up without a library, that’s for sure. I’m so glad that the LFL has taken off so well in Vesta. It’s been about five years that this has been in the works, and finally it looks like something is going to happen!

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