Saturday, October 4, 2008

Birth of a Library

Several years ago, Tomie received a letter from R.J., a 10-year-old boy, in Rollinsford, New Hampshire (on the border with Maine). RJ had decided that his town should have a public library. He asked Tomie for a recipe for a library fund-raising cookbook.

Although members of the community had tried since 1840 to establish a public library in the town, it wasn't until RJ inspired family, friends and neighbors to help him realize his dream that community support for a library began to grow.

Last Saturday, we drove the nearly two hours to Rollinsford so that Tomie could attend the ribbon-cutting for the ceremonial opening of the Rollinsford Public Library. The Town of Rollinsford has yet to support the library with public funds, but the library is hopeful for future support.

As we waited for RJ to cut the ribbon, we talked with library board members, and learned about their creativity in generating private donations: Most of the library books and magazine subscriptions were donated, some of the furniture was purchased at a bargain rate from the New Hampshire office of "Dennis Kucinich for President," the Friends group held yard and bake sales, etc. One of the board members even suggested while we were talking that we get out-of-town library cards for $10 each. Of course, we did.

At the ribbon-cutting, Tomie donated several of his books, and a $500 check recently given to him, for a charity, by the New England Independent Booksellers Association for being named the 2008 New England Book Award winner for Children's Books.

The library has become a remarkable reality, and Tomie was delighted to be a small part of it.