By Virginia Roberts
Rhinelander District Library Director
Many years ago, Robert Fulghum wrote All I really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. A well-known summary of the book are words to live by—things like: Share everything. Play fair. Don’t hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don’t take things that aren’t yours (kindness). Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some. When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together. Be aware of wonder. Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we. And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK. [Source: “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum. See his web site at http://www.robertfulghum.com/ ]
All of this is true in the library. Public libraries, by their very nature are tax funded, so the materials and the knowledge and the buildings are owned and shared by the public. The librarians staffing the buildings play fair with the public and expect the public to deal fairly with the library. We expect materials to be returned so they may be shared again. We hope folks will treat each other, the staff, and the building with respect and not cause loud distractions, dent the drop boxes, or go out the exit rather than the entrance in the parking lot. We hope people let staff know when something isn’t working properly or they dropped something in a book or the entire book in a puddle—it’s part of cleaning up your own mess. Kindness matters.
Libraries are here to be enjoyed. They are here for everyone. So it bugs me when folks decide to keep the things that are part of the public collection because they are to be shared. Don’t hurt each other.
There are other rules that take a lifetime to learn. Rules, in my short half-life, I continue to find new and interesting ways they apply. Life balance includes the items at the library, for education, enrichment, and entertainment.Always wonder. Being alone outside, enjoying nature is as important as being alone in your head or with a group of friends. This spring, it’s been like Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom in our little part of the Northwoods. I see deer, hawk, partridge, loons, cranes, eagles, fox, rabbits, and the usual variety of assorted waterfowl and rodents everyday—and try to avoid them with my car or bike, or in the case of the adolescent bear population, avoiding them altogether.
Wonder is found at the library, too A variety of folks—all ages, from the small to the very old, all shades of the rainbow (in skin and hair), all degree of belief on the spectrum come to your library. Unlike the outside world, they do their best to get along. This is evident how Free Comic Book Week is going here. The first program, discussing the history of modern comic books, had children, teens, adults and elders, all sharing their memories and enjoyment of these combinations of art and literature. Thanks to a generous donation of comic books—Rhinelander District Library can again give out comic books. And everyone, boys, girls, elders, and children, have been polite in not taking too many and sharing what they do take with each other. It’s pretty cool. There was another author event on Saturday, celebrating a local artist and local myth, all in one, and the overarching event—Free Comic Book Day.
But it really is all in a library day’s work. Everyday there is wonder on the faces all those who enjoy our programs—their exploration of wonder is boundless–from children (and parents) discovery of books and resources during the baby storytimes, 1,000 books before kindergarten, and book and a movie for fourth and fifth grades, to teens and adults game days, crafternoons, zentangles, author events, and exploring the natural world with programs like the one coming up with Professor Mikelson discussing how the ice age has implications in our area geology—or more simplistically, how the boulders wound up on Brown Street (May 15, 6 p.m.).
Because of mortality, authors (and producers) create all these materials to be time travelers—a history–a signpost for the future, as it were. Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) provided in his will for his memoirs to be released 100 years after his death because of the political commentary therein. And his writings were still relevant. Jules Verne’s manuscript, Paris in the 21st Century, was found in an attic by his nephew in the late 1990s was published, revealing a world very similar to what we’re experiencing now. But, humans have very short lives which are also why libraries (as well as museums and archives with all that microfilm and paper) are so important. These buildings keep the arts and history of the ages. They allow dreamers to dream, people to wonder, and everyone to see there is little new under the sun to LOOK.
Come to the library and explore the past, and the future. Because learning about life and the stories we tell never ends. Then go sit outside (when it finally warms up) and enjoy the book (or audio) you borrowed. Have a movie night on the side of your house (before the mosquitoes get too bad). Learn and remember. Because the common theme is the Golden Rule: Watch out and take care of each other; hold hands and stick together; humanity is going to survive is by cleaning up their mess and sharing. And public libraries have something for everyone, are for everyone, and are a great place to start your journey and your story. Come to the Rhinelander District Library and tell us your library story.
The Rhinelander District Library is located at 106 N. Stevens St., and can be reached at 715-365-1070.