This is terrible. This disaster in Jonesville.
Well, disaster may be too strong of a description. But it pained me to hear of the ruination of books and other materials in the town library.
Librarians packing up to move to a new, temporary location reported that water damage in the aging library building had ruined thousands of books. They had to be thrown out.
The loss of library books is not on a par with, say, the loss of big gobs of money in some type of financial collapse. And it’s not like the loss of a big employer and the resulting elimination of jobs and the accompanying disruptions and pains endured by employees and their families.
But the Jonesville disaster is a disaster nonetheless. Books are precious. What they contain is precious. And while some of the books and other materials can be replaced — and I’ve been impressed with the donations and assistance that have come in, including from my old school, C.B. Eller Elementary — not everything will be replaced.
Libraries are a community’s depository of knowledge. We learn at and through the library. We grow there. Libraries introduce us to new people, new experiences. They take us in our minds to other places near and far. They show and explain how the world twists and turns.
Also, our free libraries are centers of egalitarianism. It matters not in what station of life you dwell or how much money is in your bank accounts. All who come to the library and bask in its quietude are equal, all are welcome.
As a writer I know a bit about the time, work and passion that goes into the writing and the photos on the pages. Throwing moldy books into the garbage is a disdainful trashing of good peoples’ lives’ work.
Why do we know so well and honor the classical Greeks and Romans, as opposed to, say, the European Celts or the Asian Hitties? It’s because we know the Greeks’ and Romans’ books. The classical literature endures and continues to enlighten and refresh generation after generation. Books have that way about them.
For instance, the old Chatham mill in Elkin is gone now but its story lives on as people swap and display old “Blanketeer” articles from company newsletters as well as old photos taken during the mill’s heyday and shown on the internet, another important preserver of community knowledge and heritage.
The Jonesville library often gets passed over in attention in favor of its larger, more elegant cousin across the river and along Big Elkin Creek.
But in Jonesville they packed that little library storefront that once housed such operations as a radio station, a doctor’s office and a bicycle shop with lots of good stuff and made the most of precious, limited space.
I’m looking forward to seeing what they do in new quarters. They had an open house at the new location on Winston Road on Saturday.
I have no idea of the extent of what was lost. But I do have an idea of what can be found as Jonesville enters upon a new era.
I remember what a modest and uninspiring beginning the Elkin library had in its one room in the old YMCA on the Chatham mill grounds. And look at what it became.
May Jonesville receive the same, bountiful blessing. Read on.
Stephen Harris returned home to live in State Road.