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Library News

By: Pat Whitfield, Board Member
For: Red Rock News
Date: May 28, 2010

The Library Remembers

This is the time of year when we remember heroes, loved ones, and others who have been an important part of our lives. The act of remembering allows us to take time from our busy-ness and think about all that they have meant to us. This week’s column is devoted to those symbols of remembrance that can be encountered at the Sedona Public Library.

As you stroll from the parking lot to the library entrance, have you noticed the young tree just beyond where the sidewalk begins? It’s not just any tree, it’s Spike’s Memorial Tree, planted in 2000 on behalf of Friends of Spike.

Who was Spike? According to the plaque at the base of the tree, “Spike was a local Sedona dog who was a playful Lab/Shepherd mix. On March 30, 2000, at the age of eight months, he died, a victim of animal cruelty at the hands of his owner. His suffering and brutal death stirred compassion in the hearts of many Sedona residents, and a multitude of people the world over. Thousands of letters and petition signatures flooded the justice system, urging serious treatment of the case.  Spike’s trial was a legal landmark – Arizona’s first animal cruelty jury trial in which the perpetrator was found guilty and ordered to serve sentence under the Arizona Felony Statute (ARS, Section 1329).”  The tree was planted in October 2000 by the People’s Animal Assistance Forum on behalf of Friends of Spike.

Spike’s tree was planted at Sedona Public Library, in a place that people could walk by and remember that Spike was “Sedona’s own emissary for all animals who have fallen victim to cruelty. May their suffering serve to remind that compassion, gentleness, and reverence for ALL LIFE are the keys to World Peace.”  Some day the tree will grow tall and spread its branches, offering shade to passersby and commemorating a loyal pup who never had the chance to grow.
Have you ever attended a meeting or community event in the Si Birch Community Room? If so, you’ve been touched by a leading citizen of Sedona. There’s a large plaque on the wall describing Si’s contributions to our community until his passing in 1998, but have you ever stopped to read it? If not, here’s a sampling of this generous, civic-minded leader’s contributions:

“Si Birch-Sedona’s First Citizen of the Year, 1988. … After 27 years with the City of Los Angeles, primarily as Director of the Bureau of Contract Administration for the Department of Public Works, Silas “Si” Benson Birch, Jr. and his wife Leonore retired to Sedona in 1975. While Si planned to paint and draw, he immediately became involved in many community and agency projects which he actively continued until his death.  The Si Birch Community Room is a lasting tribute to recognize the significant and substantial contributions of time, experience, knowledge, and energy that Si Birch willingly gave to the City of Sedona and its citizens.”

A substantial list of involvements follows, among them: President of Sedona Healthcare Services, the first licensed free standing clinic in Arizona, Chairman of the TAP Committee (a Sedona-based transportation authority), ten year appointment to the Governor’s Advisory Committee for Pathways, Historic, and Scenic Roads. His leadership of the two committees previously listed helped make possible a number of the following achievements: first state scenic road designation for Oak Creek Canyon and State Route 179, first official city map, removing Soldiers Wash from Forest Service exchange land.  Si Birch served on Sedona’s City Council from 1992-1996, on the Sedona-Oak Creek School District Steering Committee (which he chaired), on the boards of both the Sedona Public Library and what was then known as the Adult Community Center, and still had time to play the baritone in the Sedona Hometown Band for 18 years.
The Si Birch Community Room is available to non-profit groups at no charge and to others at a nominal rate. It is not surprising that a room dedicated to this committed community volunteer should have become, in actuality, THE place where many elements of Sedona come together for work, entertainment, and enlightenment.

As you’ve strolled through the atrium and around the Circulation Desk, have you noticed the sparkling, crystalline glass panels that filter the sunlight ever so gently?  Created by Thomas M. Aderhold, this shimmering wall is in actuality the “Silent Waterfall Glass Panel,” each section of which is available to honor loved ones. Stop for a moment to read the names listed below the Silent Waterfall. These are individuals whose families or friends contributed $2500 to have them so honored. These contributions have enabled the Sedona Public Library to continue its service to the community.

What about the Grandchildren’s Tree just beyond the Quiet Study Meeting Room? Have you stopped to really look at it? Its leaves of gold, silver, and bronze honor the children who are welcome visitors to the Library. Each leaf is contributed by a grandparent to recognize his or her own special young reader or readers. Contributions to this tree range from $1000 for a gold leaf bearing the youngster’s name through $500 for a silver leaf and $200 for a bronze leaf.

Whether the tree lives outside the Library or on its wall, whether the memorial is financially supported or a solemn recognition of a life, the Sedona Public Library remembers.

Pat Whitfield
Pat Whitfield, author of this week's article,
is a Member 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.