As I See It...
During the past several years I have been privileged to display my work as an amateur wood sculptor in the lobby of the Fredricksen Library in Camp Hill.
Entitled “Sculpture as an Expression of History and Literature,” the display depicts replicas of American war memorials form the Revolutionary War through Desert Storm. As such it was well received by the public.
Some time ago I was asked if it would be possible to spend some scheduled time with the display to speak with and answer questions for interested patrons as they passed through the library lobby. Accordingly, I scheduled time to be available four days during the display month. On these occasions I met and spoke with many interesting people for a total time of 30 – 40 hours. I also had time to just sit and observe. It was during these times that I began to realize the true impact of the Fredricksen Library on the West Shore community.
First, I was amazed at the constant flow of people: men, women and children who seemed to pass through the lobby. Everyone in the area must possess a library card! I was also impressed by the ability of the library staff to service all of these people with efficiency.
As the days passed I realized how many people use the Fredricksen Library and I was getting to know some of them. I began to understand that the library was part of their daily lives. To these people, the library was not simply a service organization; it provided a special kind of fulfillment in their lives.
As one man put it, “I have never been involved with an institution where I have received so much for so little.”
I began to understand the true essence of the Fredricksen Library and its value to the community. It fulfills a need beyond historical archives, reading material and other services. And while future technology will certainly effect changes in the library system, the system itself is part of our culture. As long as it retains such a valuable relationship with the community, we will never lose.
In conclusion, I believe that the Fredricksen Library is a great example of how a civic organization can provide not only service, but also a sense of community.
And from personal observation, I believe most people know it.
Ralph E. Ashwell
Note: Ralph Ashwell's latest piece: The Vietnam Women's Memorial will be on display in the Fredricksen Atrium during the month of November 2014 in honor of Veteran's Day.