Like a fair number of libraries, a week from today (Election Day!) we will hear from our voters whether or not they believe in the ideal and value of libraries (known to us as Issue 4). Later this week I’ll share with you some of the materials and positioning we have done around this election. For now, I want to share with you a letter to the editor that appeared this weekend in The Columbus Dispatch.
The letter is from Alex Fischer, CEO of The Columbus Partnership. I want you to pay particular attention to the third paragraph: “We hang out at the library in each community to get a true sense of the values of that community.” This statement is the result of generations of librarians and citizens keeping our institutions relevant and funded.
Here’s what Alex Fisher has to say:
Libraries Reveal A Lot About A Community’s Values
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Libraries are vital to a community. This was the lesson I learned as the former deputy governor of the state of Tennessee, where I led Tennessee’s economic-development efforts. We competed vigorously for new company expansions and relocations. During one such competition, we were down to the wire for a major project, competing with communities from two different states. We knew that other states were being aggressive.
In the end, we won the project. Over a celebratory dinner with the company’s real-estate site-selection team, I asked a consultant to give me the behind-the-scenes story of the intense competition and how we managed to separate ourselves from the other communities.
He said, “Any time our firm has a close competition, we do a ‘secret shopping’ experience at the local library. We hang out at the library in each community to get a true sense of the values of that community.”
I instantly got it. Only a year or so earlier, Nashville had opened a fabulous new downtown library; certainly, that secret trip to our library had told them volumes about the community.
In Columbus, we have the capacity and courage to become the fastest-growing economy in the country and one of the nation’s leaders in economic development by 2020 — that’s what our new Columbus 2020 regional economic-development strategy is all about.
Partnerships are critical to achieving our goal, and I yearn for the day that a “secret shopper” evaluates the values of our community with a visit to the Columbus Metropolitan Library.
It is the No. 1-ranked library in the nation and already has programs in place that support and align with our education systems, including early childhood literacy, story times, summer reading clubs, homework-help centers and job-help centers. For many, the library represents the only link to computer technology. More than 2 million cardholders logged on last year alone. All of these programs and services are essential to building a work force that can compete in the knowledge economy of 2020.
We are fortunate to have the Columbus Metropolitan Library as a community partner with a shared vision of excellence. Support the library. Join me in voting for Issue 4. It says volumes about who we are as a community!
President, chief executive officer, The Columbus Partnership
As we look forward to the future, this kind of corporate support and advocacy is critical to our success.