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IN THE MAIL: Help make library's future bright

GRAND FORKS -- With the recent passing of library director Dennis Page, we've reminisced about the "architect" of the Grand Forks Public Library we know today. This year also brought the loss of another pillar of our library, Elaine Strand, who s...

GRAND FORKS -- With the recent passing of library director Dennis Page, we've reminisced about the "architect" of the Grand Forks Public Library we know today. This year also brought the loss of another pillar of our library, Elaine Strand, who served in reference from 1960-1981. The staff and public also dearly miss an energetic and talented newer member of the staff, Nancy Gardner, who passed away earlier this year. There have also been or will soon be retirements of heads of other departments in the library.

While there have been many tears and much sadness this year, it can also be a year of possibilities and progress. Similarly in 1997, the city leaders in East Grand Forks saw potential in tragedy when they had to rebuild the library from scratch after the flood. With director Charlotte Helgeson's vision, they created a library/community center and built a lovely facility where local artists can display their works, community groups can meet and classes can be held. Many Grand Forks residents regularly "cross the river" to enjoy these amenities.

With 2008 a watershed year, the focus of the Grand Forks Public Library Board, staff, city and county leaders and community should be on the future of its library. Community members can provide feedback and answer the call for task force members -- and if you don't use the library, contact the library to say why you don't and what would bring you in.

We have seen the efforts of individual staff members -- constant improvement in displaying a vast collection in such a limited space, the formation of a young adult advisory committee, the "Check it Out" newsletter and promotion of our databases. We need a community-wide push to take the library to the next level.

Libraries do change lives and help form leaders and informed citizens in every generation. They will continue to do so as long as they stay attractive through products, services and environment.

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For more information, go to www.ilovelibraries.org or visit with a local librarian. To see an award-winning new library in a city the size of Grand Forks, visit www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6568073.html . Grand Forks County will be better off for your efforts.

Borysewicz is reference librarian/bibliographer at the Chester Fritz Library at UND. She is a former Grand Forks Public Library employee.

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