June 8 2022–While I was wandering the country as an itinerant musician, the first place I visited upon arrival in a new town was the local library. As an avid reader and news junkie B.C. (before computers), the library was my link to the larger world outside of Ford station wagons and hotel lounges. Walking into a library provided a comforting sense of familiarity. No matter where I roamed, from Eldorado to Pueblo to Chillicothe, every library offered words, wonder, and welcoming librarians.
So when I rolled into Fredericksburg back in 1978 to play the Hill Country dance halls, my first official visit was to… the laundromat. And then to Security State Bank. And THEN to the Pioneer Memorial Library.
And I still use two out of three of those.
“Going to the library” is something I’ve done every couple of weeks in the intervening 40 years. So it surprised me when during my last visit the staff waylaid me and asked if I would write up something to remind the public that the library was open and operating.
I assumed everyone knew that.
Apparently that is not the case. After a couple of years of covid confusion, and the recent loss of long-time lead librarian Brian MacWithey, it seems a good time to remind Gillespie County residents we still have a library right in the middle of town. For those who might not have been there yet, it is directly across Main Street from Oktoberfest.
But unlike that great institution, the library is open year-round.
In this age of computers, internet, goggle, and connectivity in everyone’s palm, why do we still even need libraries? I called and asked. Megan, your friendly neighborhood Library Clerk, happened to answer the phone (yes, they still have a land line). She readily reeled off a litany of reasons to check it out:
-it’s a place people can meet up
-if you don’t have a computer, you can use theirs
-a lot of people still like to read real books
-they keep current subscriptions to magazines and newspapers
-they provide services that people need and want
Some of those services you might not know about include online books you can download from home, and being part of the inter-library loan program that lets you get any book from any library in the U.S.
So, Megan, do people still call the library looking for information on ringtail cats or asking what is the population of Luckenbach?
“They do,” she said.
Do you like dealing with those kinds of questions, I asked.
“Well,” she replied, “you get to talk to a lot of interesting people that way.”
I can imagine.
So what is the biggest need for the local library in this brave new world, as patrons pull down their masks and look up from their cell phones?
Books, according to Mollye Long, President of Friends of the Library. They are looking to collect 8000 books for their annual Library Book Sale, moved this year to the last Saturday in October on Marktplatz. That is their major fundraiser for the children’s programs, and they need every type and topic of book now so they can sort and sift and repair and prepare for the mammoth one-day event.
Long has her own reasons for supporting the library, something she has done since 2004.
“The library is still important for residents of all ages,” Long said. “Retirees can come in, read magazines and newspapers, and check out books. Little kids need to be reading. I’m a believer in people needing to read, and people need books. And the library is still a place you can check out a book for free.”
Speaking of children’s programs, the library is restarting its popular Summer Reading Program. The first event is on Wednesday, June 15, featuring Dru Woods using puppets and music to tell stories. The programs continue for six Wednesdays, starting at 9:30 a.m. on the lawn. They are free and open to everyone.
Audiences will enjoy plays, puppets, reptiles, balloon shapes, magic, story-telling, and a big finish in July with Bonzo Crunch, demonstrating the absolute importance of reading using magic, music, and juggling.
Clearly, books aren’t the only things you can check out at the Pioneer Memorial Library.
For hours, events, and more information on participating in the Summer Reading Program, visit youseemore.com/pioneer/ or call 830 997-6513. Or stop by.