Deduction would tell us that in the information age libraries would be accorded great respect, but somehow that isn’t universally the case anymore. Given that truth, it’s encouraging to see what has happened over the last several years in Jackson County as support has gathered for a new library that, after much debate, will be attached to the strikingly beautiful historic courthouse.
After a decade-long community debate that raged with unusual fervor, county leaders decided in October 2007 to put the county’s new library atop courthouse hill. This wise decision did two things: ensured Jackson County residents their new, much-needed library would have wide community support; and it infused the project with a historic and cultural significance, providing a symbol of political and intellectual aspirations that will endure for generations.
There was a time when libraries were enshrined as the world’s primary learning centers. The administrators of the ancient library of Alexandria, Egypt, according to some historians, were charged with with no less a task than bringing together all the world’s collective knowledge. Stipends were paid to scholars and their families to come spend time there. Throughout the ancient world libraries were held in high regard as the keepers of culture and history, and typically they were among a city’s most splendid architectural masterpiece.
Today too many communities neglect these important institutions. As television and the Internet have grown in significance, and indeed put much of the world’s knowledge and literature at our fingertips, libraries could be written off as quaint relics.
But that’s just not the case. Places where people — children and adults — gather to read, write, research and discuss ideas will always be important. Amid the rush of today’s world, a place where adults work and read in a cocoon of silence and where children can discover the profound joys of the written word are indeed sacred.
Macon County has already done its community proud with its recently opened library, and citizens came together to support the furnishings of that facility with their donations. Now the same is being asked of Jackson County residents. Fund raising is currently under way, and almost $500,000 of the $1.6 million goal has already been pledged.
We believe this library is among the most worthy of community projects. It will become the epicenter of the intellectual and community life of Jackson County, and we encourage residents to support the fund-raising drive to the best of their abilities.