Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Little Library on Gaither Street

On a warm Mississippi Spring day during 1961 the day was like any other for a first-grader at Fulton Grammar School. However, this day proved to be a special day for the students of Miss Carroll’s class. After lunch it was announced we would be taking a field trip to the town square, three blocks north of the school. The class walked in single file on the sidewalk along South Cummings Street then north along Gaither Street to an unassuming store building. However, this building proved to be no ordinary building. Once through the doors the wide-eyed students were greeted by thousands of books on shelves lining the walls of the cramped space. For a youngster in the hills of northeastern Mississippi this was truly a special magical place. It was the place I was introduced to Tom Sawyer on the Mighty Mississippi, the daring pirate Black Beard, rugged cowboys of the old west and a vast collection of adventurers and explorers. On that day of my first library visit, we were each allowed to select one book to take home with us. There were just too many wonderful books, but after much debate I finally selected a book about John Adams, the second president of the United States.

From that warm spring day many years ago the county library has moved and grown. And it has always been a special place for many. The library here in our small town is more than just a collection of books and research materials. It is simply the heart and soul of the community. It is a special place where the dreams and aspirations of many youngsters are fostered and cultivated. It is the place where a world of knowledge is delivered to county citizens young and old alike.

Over the years the county library has been the meeting place for countless civic organizations. From civic clubs and garden clubs to the county arts council, many organizations have called our library their home. As a matter of fact, the beginnings of the Itawamba Historical Society were right there among the book stacks.

It was during the winter of 1982 when three or four researchers were sitting at a table researching their family lines. One of the researchers had recently moved to the county with the construction of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. She commented that the county needed a historical society. With invaluable help from the county librarian, within an hour plans were formalized for the first organizational meeting. For many years the society met each third Tuesday evening in the county library on Cedar Street.

The week of April 13-19 is National Library Week. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of libraries, librarians and library workers in schools, campuses and communities nationwide. Take time to thank those in this noble profession for the important job they do. And above all else, become involved with volunteer efforts for the local library and help insure that this noble institution receives adequate funding so that the dreams and aspirations of future citizens can be realized and communities transformed, enriching the lives of many.

1 comment:

Lori Thornton said...

What a great tribute to your local library!