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A Modest Proposition

The Nyack Public Library is expanding, and it needs your help. And check out the "Brendan Eats Steak Fund," while you're at it.

Since you're reading this column on the Internet, I'll assume you're young enough that you didn't end up here accidentally while trying to e-mail your grandson, and old enough to remember when a library was the best reference source in a 10-mile radius.

And even if I'm wrong about the former, I know you're sending that e-mail from the library, because old people don't buy computers until they've conquered the remote control.

(They also hoard ketchup packets when they go to McDonald's for senior-discounted coffee, but enough about my great-uncle Bernie and everyone else who lived through the Depression). 

Libraries are havens. They're a forest of books in which a child can wander and emerge with a few handpicked treasures. Although in my case, it was more of stripping the paranormal and ghost story sections bare once I'd exhausted Roald Dahl and Daniel Manus Pinkwater.

(If you read any other authors to your children, bad news: you were wasting their time, and that's why they grew up to be incomplete human beings).

The Nyack Library, that stately stone structure on South Broadway, recently renovated/expanded its space to give your children more room to hold their track and field meets. They're also adding parking, computers and "Creation of Teen Room," which is the only part of this that sounds like a bad idea to me. We don't need to create any more teens. There are too many of them already, shuffling around the mall with their hands in their pockets, refusing to make eye contact and talking about vampires. It's an overall threatening scene for those of us who are only there to buy some zwieback for grandma.

Fortunately for everyone who's scared of teenagers—but unfortunately for the village—the project stalled after the Bush economy came to its Bruckheimer-ian third act in 2008. Those of us smart enough to cash in our dollars for something more stable—like bread that was stale but not yet moldy—came out okay. Library resources were not so liquid, and now the overhaul is stalled in view of the finish line.

The library needs funds to buy furniture and complete the endeavor.

"If every household in the Nyacks could find it possible to give us $50, we could complete this worthy project," writes Library Director James Mahoney on his website

That's a pipe dream, of course. You can't get $50 from everyone in the Nyacks. I should know; I've gone door to door trying to collect it. Granted, my "Brendan Eats Steak Fund" isn't as noble as promulgating literacy, but I only needed a fraction of the $9.5 million the library has raised. Your best hope is $50 from three people, and $498,500 from a celebrity in Piermont. Or you could get a few folks to donate a week's pay.

Or you could remind them of all that libraries give our communities. In addition to the miles of books, albums and movies, and Internet, they run programs for kids and adults alike to improve themselves. They bring people together with common interests. They celebrate the best portions of our intellect—both its high pursuits, and its comfortable junk. Libraries don't discriminate. They're capitalism if the currency were human interest. They make their communities better. They reward human curiosity, and thrive off it.

Moreover, the Rockland Libraries are staffed by dedicated people who work hard to inculcate your kids with a love of reading in a world that values abbreviated text messages and EPIC FAIL macros. They've also probably taught them some manners, because... good lord, children are savages. They need fewer Baby Einstein videos and more Judith Martin compilations. When I was a kid, 30 or 100 years ago, we weren't even allowed into a building until we'd held the door for three women and presented an oral report on the importance of the archaic "Thee/thou" form of second-person address. But we didn't have cable TV at the time. 

Now, I don't want to give away any state secrets, but I make $60 a column, and I'm a freelancer, which means while you're getting paid in real dollars, I'm earning -$120 a month in health insurance. However, I've discovered some chicken bones in the back of the fridge which I can boil into a broth, so I'm sitting pretty for dinner this week. 

Therefore I'm donating this week's article earnings to the Nyack Library, because it's been 20 years since I checked out a book on the supernatural, and there are at least five new cryptozoological monstrosities children need to be educated about.  

Will you do the same?

Maria Mirakaj Brownsell August 24, 2010 at 01:28 PM
I love it. When I told my brother who lives in nyack that nyack needed furniture, he says, free furniture? I will take it! I said, no, they need furniture. They want $50 dollars from everyone in Nyack. He said, No way! They shouldn't build something if they don't have money for it! (And I need my beer! I'm sure he thought)
John Gromada August 24, 2010 at 03:30 PM
I suggest that everyone wait until they get their September property tax bill before making further donations to the library. See what you are already paying to the library before making voluntary payments.

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