I didn’t have to think very long to find an image that means “opportunity” to me. This is the front door to the Callaway County Public Library in Fulton, Missouri. I was about ten years old the first time I visited this library. I was amazed and delighted by all the wonderful books I found there, especially when I found I could borrow an armload to take home and read for FREE. The only book in my home at that time was the King James Bible. My classroom at school had two small shelves of books we could read while we were at school. The library was wealth and opportunity I had never even imagined existed.
When I went to work in that same building years later, I could hardly believe they were paying me to be there. That was almost 35 years ago.
The Public Library of today has changed, just as the world has changed. Children (and adults) come for the opportunity to use computers and the Internet, to listen to books on tiny self-contained mp3 players, to download electronic books, to fill out online job applications, type resumes, and learn technical skills. They still come for the books on the shelves, too. They come for the glorious bright dust jackets and crisp white pages. They come for the opportunity to wander down the rows, to pull out any title that catches their eye, to choose whether to learn something new or escape somewhere magical.