Don’t let Ellsworth’s crown jewel be tarnished

Dear Editor:

I am writing to encourage the citizens of Ellsworth to support a crucial resource before it’s lost.

The City Council appears to be examining the possibility of cutting off the Ellsworth Public Library as a city department with an eye to saving the 3 percent of the city budget that is required to pay for it. Various knowledgeable voices (the letter from the county’s library directors and the statistics offered by Wendy Lessard) have offered clear financial reasons that this is short-sighted financial arithmetic. I would like to emphasize that this is short-sighted community development as well.

The library has been referred to as the “jewel in Ellsworth’s crown” often enough that it’s become an affectionate shorthand — but it’s certainly true. Many people notice and enjoy the lovely building and its peaceful grounds, whether as a spot to have lunch or enjoy an outdoor concert or the yearly pet show. When our Main Street was pockmarked with empty storefronts, the library still offered a serene and welcoming reason for people to come downtown, helping to keep our center alive, reminding people that there is a lovely waterfront aspect to Ellsworth. Now that the town is healthier, our library still draws people in and anchors the downtown to its heritage and its future at the same time.

More than that, the library is an amazing resource: novels, biographies, how-to books, reference materials, tax information, genealogy records, magazines, newspapers, DVDs, CDs, as well as access to online databases and downloadable audiobooks and music all unfold when I wave my library card. Our EPL provides a calm, safe place to do homework and research, or to learn anew skill or pursue an interest. Our library hosts resources for caregivers, various book clubs, art exhibits, the new resident open house, the holiday concert and much, much more within its halls. Yes, these cost money, but these services provide the kind of community development, creation and energy that new residents and vibrant businesses look for and build on.

If we want to keep Ellsworth a vibrant city in the future, we must support the resources that unite and strengthen us as a community. The Ellsworth Public Library is one of those precious resources. To borrow the words of Carl Sagan, “The health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries.” Let’s step up.

Rebecca Leamon


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