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Challenges of a Rural Library

by on October 17, 2014

While some of us may be used to large urban public libraries that have almost anything we want, this is not the case with rural libraries. What some people take for granted others would treasure. Many libraries in rural areas are at a crossroads where they find themselves in a financial situation that does not allow them to advance. In fact, they often must reduce to fewer hours and/or less accommodations for their patrons.

Small Libraries Ask For Help

Rachel Reynolds Luster recently became the Head Librarian at a one-room library in Myrtle, Mo. in the Ozarks.  She shared her story about the difficulties of revamping such a small space in a small community. She doesn’t refer to herself just as a librarian, but also as a curator. According to Luster, her goal is to inspire a sense of community with the library as the nucleus of the town. Her efforts have included hosting bake sales, book fairs, and a weekly story time for kids.

Her main area of concern is working within the budget of just $200 a month for books and supplies. Luster has taken to social media to procure donations and has already received over 1,000 materials to add to the collection. She feels a library is important not only for the reading, but also for the access to the internet which can be used to continue community members’ education through online programs and can help them fill out online job applications.

Vermont public libraries don’t receive any direct support from the state

In Vermont, the public libraries must all work individually to find funding to support themselves. They receive no direct support from the state. Most of the money comes from community events such as bake sales, book sales, and donations. This situation is best exemplified with a library in Ludlow. Volunteer Julia Baldwin says the library exists solely because of donations and endowments that people have left after they passed away. The library is only able to function two days a week and only in the summer. It is a labor of love in this community and through the local Ladies’ Aid society, which Baldwin is a part of. There is no paid librarian who works there.

Urban helping Rural

Hopefully this story will help to inspire those of us who live in urban communities to reach out to our rural brothers and sisters and offer a helping hand. Talk to your Head Librarians about offering donations to these libraries in need. We may have originally ordered 200 copies of the Harry Potter books to meet original demands,but I’m sure we could send a few to rural libraries that may not have ever owned a copy. Cull the collection for duplicates that may no longer be necessary and help out other communities of readers.




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