- Special Sections
- Public Notices
Back in the day … long before I met the “boss,” got into the information business and then started having children, I had hours to burn.
Outside of weekend camping trips with buds, some shade-tree mechanic work on my old mini-bike and homework projects, I had a special passion.
I suppose what it really boiled down to was my tendency to choose to escape from the humdrum of every day life.
I liked to read.
And I often could be found wearing out my library card at
C. Bascom Slemp Memorial Library.
Inside its walls I could travel to distant places; imagine myself to be an astronaut or super spy; and learn skills.
I actually read a book on how to teach myself to throw a curve ball.
A dear friend of mine enjoyed reading as well. Today, she’s a best-selling author living in New York City. The book bug hit her early on.
Not only would she go to the library, but she would wait for it to come to her.
Remember book-mobiles? Adriana Trigiani wove a lot of her upbringing in the coalfields of Southwest Virginia into her better known works based on her first novel entitled “Big Stone Gap.”
Obviously her reading habit paid a little higher dividend for her than me. But that’s OK.
The point is, reading is critical for everyone’s success. Literacy, time and time again, is a measuring stick for economic opportunity and community development.
Back in the day, as I started out in the space, the library was a repository of information. Rows and rows of books lined shelves that spanned from the floor to the ceiling. I remember flipping through a card catalog and then using a computer to track down the location of a particular publication.
While in college up at the Big University, I found another use for the library — besides researching papers and projects, it became a haven of sorts.
Residence hall life isn’t exactly the most conducive to learning, especially on weekends before a big test. Ditto for the apartment complex where I spent my last two years earning a degree.
Let’s just say I can truly remember one evening when the light fixture in my dining room rattled out of the ceiling when up upstairs neighbors cranked up the base on their “thump, thump, thump” stereo system.
The library, no matter where I happened to be, was a place of personal growth and expansion. It still is — now only more so.
That’s why I was so excited to read last week that the libraries in Kingston and Rockwood had won grant funds to upgrade their technology. Each was awarded $21,866.
“Libraries in rural areas play an especially important role in connecting citizens with the resources and opportunities that are oftentimes isolated to urban areas,” said Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett, whose office awards the grants in cooperation with the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development.
“These grants will go a long way toward providing vital access to computers and the Internet, which is particularly helpful in some of the areas that were hit the hardest by the recession,” he added.
The aim of the grants is to strengthen rural communities by developing libraries.
“These grants will help people access information on employment opportunities, job training, small business development and education here in Roane County,” said state Sen. Ken Yager. “This will help level the playing field in the job market and eliminate the need for some people to drive to big cities to get Internet access.”
Grants may be used to cover costs for computer equipment, new training, educational opportunities, Internet access and other enhancements approved by the USDA.
“When people have trouble getting Internet connections or cannot afford a home computer, our public libraries fill a void,” said state Rep. Julia Hurley. “Our community is extremely grateful for the help of the Office of the Secretary of State, ECD and USDA Rural Development.”
Since broadband isn’t readily available to everyone in the more rural portions of Roane County, the ability to hop onto the information highway at our libraries should give many of our residents a leg up. My guess is personal growth will follow.
We look forward to seeing those grant monies leveraged into having a positive impact on all of us.