OPINION: A good summer for books in Meriden and Southington

This is a good summer for books, with major public library projects underway or about to be in Southington and Meriden. Both projects have been influenced by developments recently, but I think it’s safe to say both remain healthy and on target to provide major benefits to their communities.

In Meriden, where the rebuilding of the Miller Street library is taking place, it was recently announced that Clevell Roseboro II is stepping down as library director. One of the general observations you can make about libraries is that there always seems to be a reliable replacement ready to step in, and in this case that person is Becky Starr, a longtime city librarian. She’s now acting library director.

As director, Roseboro had an admirable way of looking to the future and not being shy when it came to saying things that might strike some people as far-fetched. This is comparable to Johnny Grunblatt, the developer trying to bring Meriden’s Colony Street into the future, and his “beautiful” comments: “Some of the buildings here are beautiful and historic,” he said last year. “You have the beautiful new train station and the beautiful Green.”

In the case of Roseboro, who is moving on to a job in North Carolina, where he is from, it was this statement from when he started at the Meriden library job two years ago: "When I imagine the possibilities, my mind naturally thinks that Meriden Public Libraries will evolve in essence as like a physical and virtual Spaceship, enabling our patrons to take-off and explore anywhere in the information galaxy."

You may have noticed that I support public libraries in a big way. That’s even though I might not visit them in person all that often any longer. I consider it one of the great fortunes of my life that I grew up in a house full of books. My father was a professor, of speech and drama, at the City University of New York, and there were books everywhere you looked in our home, each offering an opportunity for learning and adventure. Father’s Day is my opportunity to express gratitude for the experience.

Public libraries offer, to anyone, the same access I enjoyed when I was growing up. All you have to do is walk into one. Those involved in Meriden’s library deserve gratitude for enabling library access at the Meriden Mall, and other locations, while the big project is going on.

In Southington, some creative rethinking is taking place when it comes to the $17 million new library approved by voters at a referendum in November. You do not need to be a financial guru to see that times have changed since that approval. Shortages of materials and surging costs, as the R-J’s Jesse Buchanan recently reported, have town leaders looking to do more with less, which could entail taking another look at the planned space and using different materials. Town officials are facing reality here, and there remains confidence that a quality library residents can be proud of for years to come is on the way.

The R-J story contained an observation by Tina Riccio, Southington’s Library Board chairwoman: “A lot of people still want the actual book. Books haven’t disappeared.”

I have a hard time imagining a world in which they would. It would be a much lesser place. Like music, they are sources of magic.

Reach Jeffery Kurz at jkurz@record-journal.com.


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