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Library Story: Community Quality

Dr. Jo-Ida C. Hansen, Professor of Psychology, University of Minnesota

Story by Dr. Jo-Ida C. Hansen

Like many people, I am sure, who grew up in Jamestown, I have fond memories of the Alfred Dickey Free Public Library.  My parents, Gordon H. & Charlotte H. Hansen, who owned the Jamestown Sun were seriously avid readers.  I have no doubt that they made sure I had a library card at a very young age.  I do remember trips, as a kid, to the library to pick out a stack of books to borrow.  I think a limit was imposed on how many volumes each library card holder could take home – and I always had an armful that maxed out the allotted number.  The due date was in 14 days, and I rarely had to ask for a renewal.

When high school rolled around, we had papers to write and the library became a mix of scholarly research and youthful socialization (conducted in whispered tones).  Those were the good old days when the high school was in the center of town and a short walk from the library.  For those of us who loved having such easy access to so many books, the memory of the musty smell of old book pages often invokes positive recollections.

I live in Minneapolis-St Paul now, but I frequent Alfred Dickey a couple of times a year, when visiting Jamestown, to use the free Wi-Fi service.  I still feel obliged to speak in low tones even though the culture clearly has changed.  People are meeting to play chess, others are engaged in another favorite activity of mine – working on a puzzle.  Children are arriving with their “trailing adults” to engage in various activities.

The quality of a community – the livability index – is judged on many dimensions – quality of schools and health care, affordable housing, income, vibrancy of the downtown and retail, employment, manufacturing, recreational facilities, engagement in the arts, and so on.  The availability of an historic library that strives to embrace the latest technology and to open doors of learning to the entire community (and surrounding area) is another important indicator of the livability of Jamestown.

As one whose formative years benefited greatly from the Alfred Dickey Library, I am pleased to be able to support the Centennial Initiative and reassured to know that the community of Jamestown continues to support the library.

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