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I.C. MURRELL — Libraries are a vital staple of community

Almost a year after the shining new library was constructed on the common grounds, a big sacrifice was made. A 20-year-old college student gave up his Sunday nights watching the last NFL game of the day to get a job working there.

How to put books in order was pretty easy. The student first received an education on the Dewey Decimal System in third grade.

Learning the loaning procedures for special collections housed within this branch of a bigger university system, along with other universities in the two-story establishment, was a little bit of a challenge. Some minds don’t work as fast.

This was just on a college campus. Imagine the ins and outs of a public library each worker must learn.

Libraries aren’t mom-and-pop shops of everyday household items, but each item contains plenty of useful knowledge and vocabulary for everyday life. Libraries are unique combinations of time-honored literature, latest bestsellers, daily news, public records, law and even entertainment. Local, state, national and world history finds a home in each tax-supported building.

In the Port Arthur Public Library, for example, cultural enrichment and a new world of shapes, colors, creatures, people, places and things to the youngest learners are offered. Story times tend to draw little ones and their moms to new reads during the day and provide new ways to bond and express themselves.

Libraries, like Port Arthur’s, are led by those who’ve dedicated almost their entire lives to understanding and enhancing the science of their very functions so each one always remains a vital centerpiece in the community. Each edifice has adapted to changing times, offering everything from Disney cartoons to classic masterpieces on video cassettes, some 30 years ago, then on DVDs and now through streaming services. Card catalogs have evolved into desktop search bases and now search engines from the comfort of home.

Culturally, libraries are proven congregation grounds for study groups and special presentations, a great way to produce today’s thinkers and tomorrow’s leaders.

Port Arthur’s library has endured more than just the test of time. Hurricane Harvey engulfed the structure two years ago, leaving citizens to go elsewhere for a while.

Now, it is back in operation with a use for everyone. A simple yet modern facility brings so much necessity to a place of energy, and its rise from Harvey was no mere undertaking.

You can support your local librarians — wherever you live — in two ways: Make a visit to your school, college or public library and experience all its wonders; and visit ilovelibraries.org and click on “I Love My Librarian” to nominate your favorite for the “I Love My Librarian!” award from the American Library Association, sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Ten librarians are selected each year for awards of $5,000 cash, a plaque and travel stipend toward an awards ceremony to each winner. The contest is open through Oct. 21.

Your library — and librarians — will thank you.

I.C. Murrell can be reached at ic.murrell@panews.com

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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