2016-03-03 / Editorial

Filling up the wheelbarrow

Library Links
By Leslie Rounds

This morning, after another one of those icy-rainy nights that we’ve been having a lot of lately, I passed the wheelbarrow on my way to the car. Parked by woodpile because it’s wood we haul, it was nearly half full of rainwater. I took a quick peek in my real rain gauge and found out we’d only gotten about an inch of rain.

It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out why the wheelbarrow indicates we’ve had a deluge when it was really just a decent shower. Wheelbarrows have these great sloping sides: big at the top and small at the bottom. I know that they are probably designed that way to make them more stable and easier to dump. But deep down inside, I’m pretty sure the reason is so you can think you’re really hauling a good-sized load. Aren’t you always surprised when you dump out this huge heavy load and find out it just makes a pathetic little pile?

At this point you must be wondering why the loopy librarian is going on … and on … about wheelbarrows. Well, it’s because the big pool of rain in my wheelbarrow made me think about the annual fund drive for the Dyer Library and Saco Museum.

This is not as strange as it may first appear. Why is my wheelbarrow so full of water? Because it collects the rain from a large area – the open top – and pools it in a small area – the little square bottom. And how could that possibly relate to the annual fund? It’s like this: our annual fund appeal letters go out to far more than the group of people who have previously donated. We send letters to all of our patrons, reminding you of what we do here and what it takes for us to accomplish that mission. And we hope that making a broad appeal will fill up our wheelbarrow. That’s especially important this year as we strive to achieve the $100,000 matching grant that has been offered to us to pay for replacing our aged, oil-guzzling furnaces; June is the deadline for that match.

Like some Maine libraries, we are not fully funded by our city, so we have to raise a substantial portion of our budget. In past years we have done a pretty good job of accomplishing that. But a pretty good job isn’t a perfect job. We are not able to fully accomplish our basic mission because our budget has always been so tight. Public computers are replaced when they become completely useless, the photocopier barely chugs along, the book budget remains weak and we have not been able to offer the number or quality of programs we would have liked. At the museum, we’ve launched an ambitious new project to teach local history to C. K. Burns students; we’d like to make those many programs as hands-on as possible, requiring materials for the kids to work with.

We do a lot on what we have. We provide Internet access for all those citizens of Saco who have no home computers. For many children we are the only way they can get online, an essential component of education these days. We offer books, audios, DVDs, downloadables and video games, an enormous amount of high quality children’s programming, even a safe place for children to go after school. We present fabulous exhibits at the museum, like our two nationally recognized sampler exhibitions.

Without your help, we can do very little of this. With everyone pitching in, our annual fund will be a great success. So when you receive your letter from us in the next month or so, please keep in mind the quality of service we offer, and give what you can. It takes surprisingly little to fill the wheelbarrow when everyone adds something.

Leslie Rounds is executive director Dyer Library, Saco Museum.

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