Thursday, February 10, 2005

Keeping the Tiskilwa Library vision burning

After four years of envisioning by our library board everyone in Tiskilwa may soon be able to enjoy our local library, even people like me who use a wheelchair.

I grew up loving books. Unfortunately our Minnesota farm was over 30 miles from the nearest public library. My family never went to that town often enough to check out a book and get it back on time.

So you can imagine my joy when I moved to Illinois 27 years ago and discovered a little library a couple miles away. The only problem is that it has seven steps up to the door. Several years ago my rheumatiod arthritis kicked in again and each time I go to the library I have to decide if I'm up to climbing the mountain. Most times the answer is no.

Six years ago I joined the Tiskilwa Library board and a little over four and half years ago they asked me to be president.

Four years ago the board met to envision the future of our small town library. We set a three year goal--an accessible library. To be able to use my wheelchair in the library any time I want, to be able to browse the land of book and magazines, what a sweet dream.

I love envisioning, dreaming, and seeing a great future.

At the time we set the goal the library had some savings and the State of Illinois offered 50% matching grants to make the library accessible. But soon the state went into a fiscal crisis and 50% matching accesibility grants disappeared like a wisp of smoke.

The library board kept the vision burning though. A year an half ago we explored the possibility with the village of renovating an abandoned high school in town. Too expensive.

Last June 10, 2004 I did a blog about the library and envsioning. Here's a "keeping the flamie burning" part of the blog:

There is strength in setting a goal and announcing it to the world. The Tiskilwa board set the goal of an accessible building. We're going to miss our three-year time table but I don't think we'll miss our goal.

It's just a matter of patiently exploring each option until we find the path that leads to an accessible Tiskilwa library.

A couple of weeks ago the local bank branch called a meeting of the library board and village board and announced that they were closing their Tiskilwa branch and that they would like to donate their building to the village or the library.

The bank's offer was one of those bad news/good news deals. The bad news is that it's the only bank in town, leaving Sarah and me and the rest of Tiskilwa high and dry when it comes to a local bank.

The good news? The bank already has an accesible entrance and over twice the space of our current library. Last Monday night the library board decided to have an architect do a study on the cost of turning the bank building into an accessible library. In 45 minutes I'm going to meet an architect at the bank.

I'm trying not to get too excited. Who knows whether the bank building will pan out or if we'll have to keep the flame of the vision buring longer?

But the idea of me, and every other person in Tiskilwa who has a hard time climbing the mountain, being able to luxiriate in the libary is so sweet.

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