By Mary Ann Inman


CLINTON – Why do we need a library? Jeanette Troha started her letter addressed to Village President Connie Tracy with that question. Troha is a Village Trustee, a parent, and a speech language pathologist employed by the Beloit School District.

Troha cited many statistics noting, almost every parent (97 percent) says it is important for libraries to offer programs for children and teens. The library in Clinton offers a few child and teen programs, however, the demand and need are much greater.

The barrier is lack of space. A larger building for the library would expand programing opportunities for all age levels, thus positively impacting our community and allowing probable growth.

Troha feels strongly about growing our community.

“Libraries can revive a struggling downtown, and as we know the Village of Clinton struggles to maintain and keep businesses downtown,” she said.

“Even though we have had some new businesses move in, there are still vacant spaces. Clinton is not seeing an increase in residents wanting to move into our community. If we want to remain viable, we need to look at creating a larger library space that can bring community members together.”

Village Trustee Jeanette Troha explained, “According to David Morris, library services can be separated into five broad categories: (1) libraries as community builders, (2) libraries as community centers for diverse populations, (3) libraries as centers for the arts, (4) libraries as universities, and (5) libraries as champions of youth.”

People go the library looking mainly for information, but they find each other there. New moms meet other moms at story time. Adults meet other adults at computer classes. Teens seek a place to do homework and develop social skills. Programs are needed to reinforce core academics in reading and math and support standardized testing.

A larger library can be very beneficial to our community. Clinton Public Library has English Second Language (ESL) tutoring classes on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. One resident suggested Spanish Second Language (SSL) classes. More space could be used to help the various cultures integrate into new situations. Immigration assistance is needed to serve populations who live here.

Troha said, “If we want to continue to serve the diverse needs of our community we need to look at our library services. The current space does not serve individuals with disabilities well. There are innumerable tools, devices, and resources that could be offered to those with disabilities allowing them to enhance their lives while living in a small community.

“The library space is so small we are not able to provide these tools. In addition to this, the current library is not very accessible to those who utilize a wheelchair or a walker. The restrooms are not American Disability Act (ADA) complaint.”

Jeanette went on to explain how the library could serve area artists by giving them space to display, share, and make their art. But beyond the community art experiences, culture programs could take place.

“More library space to focus on the arts and culture will inspire and help people of all ages to learn and grow,” Troha believes.

“Challenges facing the world cannot be addressed without the arts and humanities. Complexities are realized when communities understand literature, philosophy, and history from different perspectives. The need to challenge ideas, communicate effectively, and bring imagination with flexibility are sought after qualities by employers. Even though Clinton Public Library’s programs will always operate on a smaller scale, a larger space will offer opportunities for development of the arts and culture in Clinton.”

“A larger library space will offer adult continuing education opportunities that are necessary components in today’s fast paced world,” she explained. “Most adults need to further their careers by taking additional classes due to constant changes in the economy and jobs. A public library can provide; information for the adult learner and the technology to access online discussion groups, research and data bases.”

Studies have shown reading, in general, for just 6 minutes a day can reduce stress by 65 percent. The digital format has captured a new audience but a 2014 study found that reading an actual book has a more positive outcome. For example, readers of a short mystery story on a Kindle were significantly worse at remembering the order of events than those who read the same story in paperback.

“The process of reading a book and reading on a screen is different,” Jeanette Troha noted. “When we read on a screen we tend to skim and not read for details, thus limiting comprehension of the passage. Most screens, e-readers, smartphones, and tables interfere with the intuitive navigation of a text and inhibit people from mapping the journey in their minds.”

Actually touching a book and turning the pages, helps our brain in this process. As we read the brain creates a picture based on of the book as we pause to turn the pages of paper, without losing sight of the text. Readers can see that a book has orderly, continuous left and right pages, and a total of eight corners. One can feel the thickness of the paper in one hand and the pages to be read in the other. A reader is able to focus on a single page without losing sight of the text and realizes the book has a beginning and end.

She added, “So what does this mean? Simply libraries need to provide materials in a variety of formats. The Clinton library has books and computers. Isn’t that enough? The answer…no. A library needs to be looked at as more than a space to put computers and books, but devoted space allowing all community members to come together to learn, share and expand their world.”