Now one week into my book tour, I have spoken at four libraries, a well attended Back Country Horseman meeting, and my tour was launched at an over-the-top, so lovely, book club meeting in Libby.
When deciding the route and character of my book tour I felt I wanted to highlight our public libraries as funding cuts are making our libraries squeeze and creak. But I have discovered something about our libraries, they are reinventing themselves! My first Library, Boundary County Library in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, had the distinction of being nominated “Best Small Library in America 2017” by the Library Journal. Director Craig Anderson greeted me as I entered the library building with a box of books scheduled for my 7 pm talk. It is not a new library by any means but had the look of a well-used library. Three years ago Craig replaced Sandy Ashworth, director for 30 years.
From the Library Journal: “Anderson, whose record includes decades of teaching high school in Bonners Ferry, now works to strengthen and expand the BCLD [Boundary County Library District] vision and services. ‘I am the next generation of Sandy’s vision.’ Anderson says. ‘I let the board know that I share that vision to take the library far beyond a traditional library.’ The result is a dynamic BCLD, a model for all of America’s libraries and winner of the 2017 Best Small Library in America Award…..Ashworth had read about Massachusetts Institutes of Technology (MIT) professor Neil Gershenfeld, director of MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms and his FAB program that is now global. FAB empowers local invention, engineering educations, entrepreneurship, and the philosophy that anyone can make almost anything. Ashworth was so taken with the idea she decided BCLD needed a FAB Lab, what Anderson calls “a Maker space on steroids.”
Today, Boundary County Library instills a love of reading and learning to all ages. The library works on reading and activity time with 4-H, daycare, and the elderly at the local Restorium and Extended Care Facility. Boundary Library’s Box Program provides books in English and Spanish for the local food bank, hospital, Mountain Hops Farm, and Mercantile Store to serve migrant farm works. The Library also participates in the Read To Me early literacy program as well as Idaho’s Strengthening School Partnership summer program. Fulfilling its mission to create a culture of opportunity by incorporating technologies, adding a new dimension, and reinventing the meaning of library! Bravo, I say, Bravo.