Tuesday, January 15, 2013

About a Library (Tuesday LINKS)

Books, right?  This post is going to be about books.  Tom's favorite book, his first book, the book he forgot to bring back to the library, the book his dog ate, things you can do with books, and why libraries are the best place for books?

When most people think of libraries, books are their first thought, followed by late fees. (I have a sudden craving for Family Feud.) When I say "most people", I mean "most well-off people".  If you're not well off, you think of the Library as your access to the Internet, where you learn English, where your child gets the individualized tutoring assistance they need, your Netflix, and, most importantly, a retreat.

While we may lament the age of "Bowling Alone", libraries remain one of the few free communal meeting spots.  Need to plan a community event?  Meet at the Library.  Study group?  Meet at the Library.  There is a presumption of good intentions at the Library (real-life experiences of librarians notwithstanding).  People don't normally meet there to cause trouble.  The entire structure promote self-improvement and advancement on the shoulders of community investment.

There are no party lines in the Library.  Clinton's biography is on the shelf below Bush's.  It is somewhat amazing that for an institution as old as the Library, there have not been any controversial changes to mar its purpose.  The Library has set its parameters and chosen not to go outside that box.  When it comes to public information and resources, thinking "inside the box" is preferred.

But back to my first point, the Library is more than books.  Without ever intending to do so, it is the foundation of a universe of social services that are only limited by our imagination.  Think of an idea to help you neighbor and there is a 70% chance that the Library may be your backdrop.  It is where resumes are reviewed and printed.  Fluency developed.  Lives are changed.

On Saturday, February 23, 2013 at 7:00 pm, the Howard County Library will hold its Evening in the Stacks fundraiser at the new Miller Branch Library.  This event has swiftly muscled itself in with the Columbia Foundation's Spring Party as a "must attend" event, if for no other reason than it is just plain fun.  Between costumes and guest bartenders, the event planners have tossed off all pretension in favor of openness and community.  Oh, and there's this:

Anyone know where Jane and I can fit in some square-dancing lessons before the 23rd?

I am honored to be one of the "celebrity" bartenders this year (one day, Jane will forgive the Library for bestowing that title) and I would really love to see all of you there.  I don't often guarantee a good time but...here it is - I guarantee a good time.

February 23.  7:00 pm.  Miller Branch Library.  Yee.  Haw.


Our County jewel keeps on a'shining.  Howard County Community College opened its Life Sciences Building yesterday, opening the doors for thousands of Howard County and Maryland students looking to work in health, medicine, and related fields.  It cannot be overstated that this building will be the bridge to the middle class for a generation of students.  Whether these students choose to be nurses, techs, or assistants, an expanded Life Sciences program offers additional opportunities to turn a two year degree into a substantial career helping to treat the sick and save lives.  I work with these folks every day and am proud that my County has the premiere school for those studying in this field.

The Howard County Property Value Decline is over.  For those of us who have not bought or sold property in the last five years, the entire episode was marked only by an occasional e-mail from Zillow, but for Howard County bean-counters, this was a scary time.  Revenues dropped while demand for services increased.  I really can't compliment Budget Director Ray Wacks and his staff enough. 

Many folks accuse me of being a softy on crime because I am not in favor of the death penalty and think our "War on Drugs" is really a war on poor people.  Well, lest their be any confusion, I think every book in the law library should be thrown at politicians who are found in breach of the public trust.  You chose the position and understood the scrutiny.  If you commit any indictable malfeasance in that position, you should go to jail.  Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold's trial for misconduct and fraud begins tomorrow.

Featured Blog Post of the Day: Julia knocks it out of the park with this post on philanthropy and our varying attitudes towards "what we can afford".  I am honored that Julia, and her husband, have contributed towards the fundraising efforts of this blog and so appreciate her putting into words the conflict within all of us when we decide to "give" instead of using that money on ourselves or our loved ones.  We should think hard on these things.  It makes the gift more meaningful.

Thank you all so much for you comments on yesterday's post.  I am very happy to report back that The Baltimore Sun will be posting a full obituary for Mom Mom sometime this week.  My grandmother lived a mostly unheralded life.  The idea that she would be one of the people profiled in amongst the stories she would read on a daily basis would be so exciting for her...even though she would probably add that "The Sun is so biased."

Have a great Tuesday doing what you love!