Storyteller Paul Harvey used to have a short radio feature called “The Rest of the Story.” He would tell the story of a humble beginning or of a life full of setbacks and tragedies.
Just when you thought there could not be a happy ending, he’d say, “And now, you’re going to hear the rest of the story.” As you listened, you’d be amazed at how humble people could triumph against all odds.
Somehow he made you believe each and every time in the goodness of people and in your own ability to overcome.
I don’t know if you have ever invested in something — a cause or a person — and then never heard how things turned out. You never got to hear “the rest of the story.”
This year, some of you were among the hundreds of people who believed in Greenwood Public Library enough to volunteer, donate or help us through grant programs. Some of you were the listening ears for our stressed-out employees or expert advisers who advised us in our recovery. It is important to us that you hear the rest of our story.
The library that began this year in the red and in the news will end the year with money in the bank. It may not be a huge cushion; but considering where we started, it is nearly miraculous.
As we recover, our goal is not to be the library we were several years ago, because that library was headed toward a crisis. Instead we are on a new track, creating a brand new library where transparency, financial stability and ultimate sustainability are our goals.
As we near the end of our first year of recovery, the good has outweighed the bad. Our Friends of the Library have raised $89,000 in grants and donations, and as of this writing, our biggest fundraiser of the year brought in over $50,000 for the new Hilda Van Arsdale Library Fund. Fifty-seven volunteers have donated their time. Almost 1,000 items have been donated to the collection, conservatively worth $15,000.
And best of all, we are more closely connected to our community and to our local government than we have ever been.
Although recent releases of our audit and other documents are sobering reminders of our past, we are looking forward. How could we not?
The first year of our recovery has not only been a success financially, but it has set us on a new path. Our new strategic plan will be published by the end of the year with valuable input from our community. New community partnerships are in place, new friends and donors have been found, and a wonderful Friends of the Library group reminds us that this is not our library, after all. It belongs to our community.
The rest of our story may not be completely written yet, but the next chapter looks very hopeful. What we know now, more than ever before, is that what we have saved this year is not merely a building full of books but a living, breathing part of our community.
It connects, equalizes, stabilizes and enriches us all. There are very few free resources left in the world that provide these things without bias and without discrimination. We can’t afford to lose even one.
Cheryl Dobbs is the director of the Greenwood Public Library. Send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org.