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Why libraries will always be relevant

By Kathryn Johnson | Allied Gardens/Benjamin Branch Library

In the early 2000s, I made a trip to Green Lake, Wisconsin to visit my father who had recently retired to the small town. After a long career with the post office in Milwaukee, my father was finally able to take it easy and pursue his interests in painting, building model airplanes and volunteering at the Air and Space Museum in Kenosha.

My visit was very relaxing and, of course, included a trip to the local library. While looking around, I noticed a large table with puzzle pieces strewn about and was drawn in to work on putting it together. My dad eventually came over and we worked on it for the better part of an afternoon. I fondly recall my father complementing my puzzling skills as I found the correct location for a piece. Even though I was an adult living several states away, he would give me a “good job” or “way to go, Kate” as we spent the afternoon together.

Art display by Carmen (Photos courtesy Allied Gardens Library)

Sadly, my father passed away a few years after my visit. It is interesting to note, however, that his passing allowed for me to attend library school and eventually move to San Diego to work at the Allied Gardens/Benjamin Library. One of the first things we did when I started was create a puzzle table.

I love our puzzle table for nostalgic reasons and for the friendships and connections I have seen form around it over the years. It warms my heart when I see a regular puzzler help a curious young child as she approaches the table with the desire to assist or to see two strangers working away while chatting. It is my belief this connection and interaction is one of the best things about libraries.

While I appreciate today’s libraries move toward more technology ala 3-D printers, laser cutters and automated self-publishing machines, I think the library as community gathering place is one of our best selling points. I have seen young parents form friendships during toddler story time, a romantic older adult relationship blossom and a young teen new to the area make new friends; all in our humble library. This is one of the reasons why I love the library, the Allied Gardens community and my work.

Story books by young Sofia are available in the children’s section.

Please note that everyone is invited to stop in and work on our puzzle during open hours. We also have a puzzle exchange where you can take home a puzzle or two on the honor system and connect with family and friends at home.

Local art

Speaking of our amazing community members, local artists George and Carmen are showcased in our display cases this month. Please stop in to see the colorful, whimsical art work by our wonderful neighbors.

The talent continues

Last week, the library received a very generous donation of three books by a young local author. Young Sofia’s works are fun, humorous and informative. One of her highly-recommended works entitled “The Hole Book” takes a unique look at shapes and negative space. If you are interested in Sofia’s work, her titles are available for checkout and are located in the children’s section.

If your young author is interested in donating his/her work, we would love to add it to our collection.

Pumpkin coloring contest returns

The annual pumpkin coloring contest has returned for the month of October. Folks ages 1-99 are invited to stop in for a coloring form. All entries must be submitted by Oct. 26 so that winners can be selected and informed the following week. Winners in each age category will receive a prize.

—Kathryn Johnson is managing librarian of the Allied Gardens/Benjamin Branch Library.

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