Long live this library! – Hasso Hering


A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Long live this library!

Written December 9th, 2014 by Hasso Hering
It's a big anniversary for Albany's Carnegie Library.

It’s a big anniversary for Albany’s Carnegie Library.

Of all the things a city government must do, maintaining public parks and libraries ranks at the very top of the priority list, as far as I’m concerned. And today, a particular library has the spotlight here.

It’s Albany’s downtown Carnegie Library on Ferry Street, which was dedicated in 1914 and this year is celebrating a century of continuous service to people who read and children who want to learn.

And what a service it is! Nothing overcomes the fate of being stuck in one place as much as reading about the world, in fiction as well as fact. And the public library makes this possible at small or no additional cost to the individual reader.

The Carnegie Library is not the biggest or the busiest around. The main library on 14th Avenue is vastly bigger and busier. But the downtown branch is especially appealing because of its intimate size, historic feel, and close proximity to thousands of people in west, central and north Albany. Not to mention the old radiators that keep the interior cozy on cold winter days. And with nearly 23,000 titles, it has enough material and a varied enough selection that even regular customers will never run out of something to read.

In budget discussions over the years, I’ve heard members of the city council and others say that nothing is as important as providing for public safety. By this they mean that they will always want to fund law enforcement first even at the cost of other services. That is too narrow a view. A town without decent libraries — or parks for that matter — would be just as unlivable as a town with too much crime.

Fans of libraries have an occasion now to recognize the existence of the Carnegie branch. The city has just announced that from 2 to 7 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 14, the branch will be open for tours. (This will be in conjunction with the annual Christmas tour of historic homes, but you won’t need a ticket for the whole tour to visit just the library.)

The Carnegie is listed as a landmark in the Monteith Historic District. Unlike some landmarks, this one is a working and crucial part of the life of this small town. Long may it remain. (hh)

8 responses to “Long live this library!”

  1. Ray Kopczynski says:

    “A town without decent libraries — or parks for that matter — would be just as unlivable as a town with too much crime.”

    100% correct! Thank you for the reminder…

  2. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    The government did not invent the library. They were here before government came along and they will be here after government goes away.

    The internet has negated the need for physical libraries. They are dinosaurs on their way to extinction. Given that technology has negated their value they have become quasi homeless shelters and babysitting services, less fountains of knowledge. I’d rather the property tax that funds this “service” go towards something more essential.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      I would say the opposite is true. The Internet represents a vast sea of assertions, passions and uncertainty that changes by the minute. As long as libraries contain material that cannot be altered or shaded or falsified by whatever forces are in power, they remain one of the pillars on which a free and civilized society rests. (hh)

  3. Lisa Farnam says:

    How well I remember the anticipation of visiting that library, wending my way through and down to the kids’ section.

    And a look at my local crowded library tells me that libraries are in no way dinosaurs! Ours is always teeming with people using it in ways we never thought of (including to access the internet).

  4. Hazel Siebrecht says:

    I am an avid user of the library on 14th. Living in Millersburg, I have to pay for the privilege but I am reimbursed nearly 100% by the city. One of my first memories of going to the library was when my family lived in Eagle Point, Oregon. I couldn’t have been much older than 7 or 8. My older siblings and I were allowed to walk down the railroad track, probably several miles, to go to the library. I learned to read from homemade flash cards when I was 4 and have been reading ever since!

  5. Jim Engel says:

    Mr Shadle… beg to differ with you about physical libraries being dinosaurs even if we were “cohorts” together once upon an issue. Come the twitter, come the tablet, come Facebook. I still like to have a printed book in my hand. Consider.. your batteries give out on your tablet, your recharge station is down, your electrics don’t work. Books ought to be & I hope will be here. It should take an effort to learn & not just a “click” on an app…. JE

    • Gordon L. Shadle says:

      Jim, I don’t disagree with your general premise of your viewpoint. I think where we differ is – should library services be provided by city government through the property tax?

      Users like yourself, Hasso, and others on this blog clearly seem to be willing to pay for a library service, but only if government forces non-users like myself into making this service available to you. In my ideal world a library would stand on its own two privately owned feet – no government coercion involved.

  6. Bill Kapaun says:

    I consider libraries a step above city parks in necessity. Would you want a city without ANY parks?
    How many of us “older folk” spent hours at the library doing research for various “theme” papers, essays etc. while attending school? My parents couldn’t afford a set of encyclopedias etc.
    There is also a “social aspect”, where friends can meet friends that share common interests without getting wet.


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