Notes from the Colony

Friday, November 16, 2012

Fall is my favorite season. Yes, Spring is for new beginnings. But so is Fall.

After many years in school, Fall programs me to start fresh or to take the next step toward a goal.

In the fall, we gather home. Summer is over, and our kids get back into their routines. Cooler weather, the first fires, the holidays, all bring us indoors.

I nest in the fall. Talk about Spring cleaning, but for me, it's Fall. I tackle the dust accumulated during summer distractions. I tackle the influx of lady bug imitators.

Now, we pause and give thanks. For our beautiful Ozarks, for our peaceful Carroll County villages, unscathed in a world of catastrophe, for the many everyday blessings we take for granted.

For many of us, part of settling in is a good book. Now that we aren't watering the garden until nine at night, we've got winter evenings to curl up by the fire. Or maybe our daily commute to work is long enough for an audio book.

Whatever our patterns or challenges, Carroll County residents read. We read to the tune of 81,304 items checked out of our libraries in the last quarter. Not a year, but only three months.

Libraries are an everyday blessing we rarely think about.

But, you say, "Aren't libraries going the way of eight-track tapes and full-service gas stations? Aren't they dying?"

Dying? No way. Changing, yes. Once silent halls of monastic readers, libraries are now vibrant social centers, where learning is encouraged in many ways. Our libraries provided 710 programs in 2011, including creative activities for young people, book discussions, and family game nights. 10,262 patrons attended these free events.

Library materials are changing, too. Our libraries use OVERDRIVE, a program which gives access to 13,342 e-books and audio-books. The continued support of e-books in 2012 was funded fully by the Carroll and Madison Public Library Foundation through public donations. If you are a past donor to the Library Foundation, thank you. Thank you!

The Library Foundation has two fundraisers each year. Books in Bloom is the terrific Spring literary festival. The Foundation board does an excellent job of persuading writers like Ann Hood and Catherine Coulter to make the not-so-easy journey to Eureka Springs. Local writers, too, can sell their books and meet their readers.

Does Books in Bloom make money for the libraries? Not so much. It makes a little after covering expenses and brings books to center stage for one day. No, the majority of the funds that the Foundation raises to support the continued growth of our libraries come from the Fall fundraising campaign.

This is when you can give back just a little. To say, "Yes, I am thankful for my library."

In Europe, you pay a dollar every time you enter a public restroom. You pay for the water at a restaurant. Americans are so blessed because far-sighted, benevolent people gave us a culture and a heritage of sharing. But what if every one of those 81,304 items checked out in the last three months had cost a dollar? Imagine what a difference that would have made to the growth of the libraries.

But what about the millage, you say. Don't we pay for our libraries through our taxes? The millage goes to the continued operation of the libraries: the buildings, salaries, and light bill. The Foundation raises funds for growth. For e-books. For things that assure our libraries don't become dinosaurs, but forge on to become the libraries of the future.

Everyone understands that in these fast-paced times, we must constantly grow and change to keep up. The Library Foundation is determined that our libraries will not fall behind. Please help them by going online to to make a secure donation. Or mail to Library Foundation, 106 Spring Street, Berryville, AR 72616-3846. Or hand it to your local librarian.

In the Fall, we settle down and take the next step toward our goals. We give thanks for the blessings we take for granted all year. If we all said thanks with just a tiny donation, it would add up. And our libraries could take the next step.

* * *

Alison Taylor-Brown directs the Community Writing Program at the Writers' Colony at Dairy Hollow, which provides creative residencies for writers of all genres, composers, and artists. More than 850 writers from 44 countries have created at the Colony since its founding in 1999. Her column, Notes From The Colony, appears every first and third Tuesday of each month beginning in early June 2012. She can be reached at

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