Libraries will soon be a thing of the past! Tell that to the 2,719 people who participated in the summer reading program offerings or the 1,635 users who came and used a public computer last month.
It isn't unusual to see news stories about how the role of libraries is changing in this computer rich era. Many folks say books are becoming obsolete and so are libraries. I don't believe this at all. Your library provides a lot more than a place where books are stored. I like to remind people that if it wasn't for the librarian in the movie, "Soylent Green," poor Charlton Heston might have never found the truth.
Each library is unique in special ways from all of the others. Each has history of its own and they often house fascinating one-of-a-kind collections.
Our collection on local history has many hidden treasures. Are you curious about the history of your house or property? Come see what we have available to help you investigate. Did you ever wonder who lived in your house before you did?
What kind of business was in that abandoned building. We have maps, old city directories, tax records, and census records which might help you find out.
We get visitors every day who are searching for their genealogical roots. The materials available include microfilm of Tennessee Census records, local family histories, and a great deal of material on the Civil War.
Summer is a time for family reunions. If you are hosting one here and your family is local, wouldn't it be fun to find an engagement announcement in the newspaper for a long-married couple to show off at your gathering?
Or perhaps dig through our collection of old high school yearbooks for a picture that Uncle Fred would rather keep hidden? You could even develop your own trivia contest or guessing game with facts you find about your family here at the library. For those of you like me whose family roots are far away, try out the Heritage Quest program on the online Tennessee Electronic Library at http://www.tntel.info. It is free to use and paid for with your tax dollars.
Another resource available to you at the library is the Bedford County Historical Society Quarterly. The back issues of this periodical are available to review and you can find many interesting tidbits about local history there.
The Society meets four times each year and membership is $15 per year. For more information about this organization, please call Alvin Simmons at (931) 680-6313.
The archival obligations of a library are very important. Document collections like the ones I have described at our library give us a clearer understanding of the changes that have been made during our lifetime and the lives of those who came before us.
That's why even though we will be moving from this venerable 100-year-old building to a brand new library, some things will stay the same. The new floor plans include space for the Historical Society and a nice big space for the Local History Room. We can hardly wait. In the meantime, please come and take a look at this fascinating peek into Bedford County's history.
Please remember that tomorrow, July 14, at 7:30 p.m. is the firm deadline for logging books for the Summer Reading Program. You should all be very proud of the remarkable amount of reading that you did this summer. And, even though the Summer Reading Program is coming to an end, don't stop reading!
-- Rita Allen is director of the Argie Cooper library.