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Library News

By: Sheila Hoffmeyer, President
For: Red Rock News
Date: April 9, 2010

Libraries Are Where Communities Thrive

National Library Week is an annual celebration of the contributions of our nation's libraries and librarians. All types of libraries - school, public, academic and special – participate in this national observance.  Sponsored by the American Library Association and libraries across the country, this year National Library Week is April 11-17.  When you come to the Library next week, we know the librarians on staff would welcome your greetings as we recognize their valuable contributions to our community.

The desire to have a repository for the collection of written knowledge is a practice as old as civilization itself. About 30,000 clay tablets have been found in ancient Mesopotamia dating back more than 5,000 years. Archaeologists also have uncovered papyrus scrolls from 1300-1200 BC in the ancient Egyptian cities of Amarna and Thebes. The name for these central repositories eventually became the library.

The oldest library in America began with a 400-book donation by Massachusetts clergyman John Harvard to a new university that eventually honored him by adopting his name. In the late 1600s another clergyman, Thomas Bray from England, established the first free lending libraries in the American Colonies. Subscription libraries – where member dues paid for book purchases and borrowing privileges were free – debuted in the 1700s. In 1731, Benjamin Franklin and others founded the first such library, the Library Company of Philadelphia. The initial collection of the Library of Congress was in ashes after the British burned it during the War of 1812. The library bought Thomas Jefferson's vast collection in 1815 and used that as a foundation to rebuild.

Public libraries spread in the U.S. as a result of the waves of immigration and the philosophy of free public education for children. The first public library in the country opened in Peterborough, New Hampshire, in 1833. Philanthropist Andrew Carnegie helped build more than 1,700 public libraries in the United States between 1881 and 1919.

Over the years public libraries have changed from being primarily lenders of books and other materials, sources for reference assistance, and quiet places to read, study and reflect to so much more. This change is reflected in the theme for this year’s National Library Week, "Communities thrive @ your library.” This is certainly the case at our Library here in Sedona. In fact the first initiative in the Library’s 2007-2010 Strategic Plan is “Ensure that the Library serves as a center for community activities, including welcoming all members of the community, providing a meeting space for not-for-profit organizations, providing programs of interest, and offering a comfortable environment.”

As a relative newcomer to Sedona, I’m still amazed to hear the stories of how private support and donations of labor and materials by local businesses and organizations were given to build our Library.  And since no government money is used to maintain the building, donations and bequests are still needed to keep the facility in good repair.

On my frequent trips to the Library for meetings and other volunteer activities, I’m always intrigued to discover what programs are being held in our meeting space. The Si Birch Community Room is used by many groups whose events are open to the public.  Just a small sampling of groups and their upcoming meeting dates are listed below. You can find a complete list published in the Events section of the web site

This Sunday, April 11th from 1-3 pm the Arizona-produced film “Power Paths” will be screened. The film offers a unique glimpse into the global energy crisis from the perspective of a culture pledged to protect the planet, historically exploited by corporate interests and neglected by public policy makers. This program is sponsored by The Sierra Club, Sedona Recycles, and Democrats of the Red Rocks.

April 13th and 15th are the last days for the AARP Tax Preparation services.  This service has attracted a steady stream of people for two months.  We thank the volunteers who have assisted so many with their tax filings this year.

April is National Poetry Month and the Latino Services Department of Sedona Public Library will present a bilingual poetry reading including some of the most outstanding women poets from Latin America through the ages. “Hispanic Women Poets through Time” is Thursday, April 15 from 6 to 8 pm and will feature selected works by six remarkable women poets.

For music lovers, True North Harp Duo is performing April 16 from 7-9 pm.  Lynne Aspnes and John Wickey are a harp duo committed to focusing on their true directions as musical artists. Through sharing the support, encouragement, education and legacy that has been so generously shared with them over many years, the True North Harp Duo is committed to creating opportunity for the next generation of harpists to find their true direction through the harp.

Another component of your library programs is the “In the Village, For the Village” programs. Since 2008 (the 50th Anniversary of Sedona Public Library), the Friends of the Library, the SPL Board of Trustees, and Sedona Winds have partnered with the Arizona Humanities Council (AHC) to bring AHC’s Road Scholar Speaker Programs and Community Book Discussions to the Village for your education, enjoyment,  and convenience. These programs are free and open to the public. On Tuesday, April 27 at 1:30 pm Todd Weber will discuss “The History of the River Runners of the Grand Canyon.”

We are so fortunate to live in a community that fosters such diverse interests and provides a Library with a community meeting place for people of all ages to come together to share their passions, learn about something entirely new, or receive a valuable service. If you would like to make arrangements for your organization to meet at the Library or to present a program, information can be found in the services section of our web site,, or you may call 274-5124 for assistance.

Sheila Hoffmeyer
Sheila Hoffmeyer, author of this week's article,
is President of the Board of Trustees of the Sedona Public Library.

Library News appears each Friday in the Red Rock News
and is also presented on: Gateway to Sedona and Sedona Biz.