‘Owhwhe: Libraries are the Heart of Every Community

By JACQUELINE LETALIEN, Kim Yerton Memorial Library

There’s a bookmark in the library that says:  “Libraries [are] the heart of every community.”  I‘ve believed this about libraries since my first job in a library nearly fifty years ago.  That was in a Massachusetts city’s neighborhood Irish immigrant people which was transitioning to Puerto Rican immigrant people.  It was the commitment of the small branch library staff to know our people, the cultures they represented and the books they read.

The work at the Kim Yerton Memorial Library is pretty much the same, learn the culture(s) and serve the community’s people.  That work is directed by the heart rather than the brain.  Slowly the library is being organized in such a way as to reflect the fact that the community served is the largest American Indian sovereign nation in California.

The art work is becoming predominantly Native American.  The Native American collection continues to grow.  The Hoopa library has the largest collection of American Indian materials in the Humboldt County library system.  These materials account for about one quarter of the library’s collection.  Other parts of the collection broaden to a diversity of interests such as Dr. Seuss books, Hunger Games, Chronicles of Narnia, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Harry Potter, mysteries, westerns, science fiction.  In addition there is the over three hundred movies monthly rotating collection of general population movies on DVD.

There are also four public computers and the library’s connection to WiFi.  Throughout 24 hours the library parking lot is reminiscent of an old drive-in theater.  People park and connect to WiFi with their gizmos.  The only things missing are popcorn, hot dogs and Good n Plenty candy.  During the day we are indundated with young adults stepping into the library to use their gizmos.  Now if they’d just side glance to a book, I’d be a really happy heart.

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January 10th, 2014

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