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Check this out: At the Corner of Hopes and Dreams

You’re standing at the corner of Stanley and Victoria, just outside the library (Nelson’s cultural epicenter).

You’re standing at the corner of Stanley and Victoria, just outside the library (Nelson’s cultural epicenter). On the global scale, you’ve just heard about the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan. On the local scale, Pastor Jim Reimer has launched an ambitious campaign to buy the Savoy Hotel building and create affordable housing in our community.

There you are on your corner, concentric circles of need and opportunity expanding outwards into the region, the province, the country, and the world like so many ripples from a stone thrown in a still pond. What’s a concerned human to do?

Water metaphors aside, I’ve always seen money as a somewhat fluid entity, even when I didn’t have any. Generosity is the more valuable commodity, and in that regard, Nelson folks seem to have it in spades.

We’ve supported good community causes from Touchstones Nelson to the CT scanner; we’ve been there for locals with health crises to countries facing humanitarian nightmares. We come out for the Amnesty International Film Festival and the benefit dance for the victims of a house fire. Nelson folks supported the Nelson library expansion, the library being — appropriately, for this column — a doorway into our community, and to the world.

The Library is where today’s news  is available on the newspaper rack with papers from the Nelson Star and  Arrow Lakes News to The Globe and Mail and The Vancouver Sun; where in-depth analysis is as close as your Maclean’s or Newsweek magazines; and where the London Times, the Washington Post, and Al-Jazeera are all waiting for you at any one of seven public computers.

For a walk through events that lead us to this point, there’s Canadian Newsstand — a database of hundreds of Canadian papers, updated daily — and Ebsco, a searchable database of North American magazines and journals.

The library is a lot of other things, too, from books to multi-media, kids to adults, filling needs and offering opportunities. We’ve celebrated the generosity of Nelson area supporters in a couple of very visible ways: Our donor shelf just inside the main door honours supporters by publishing them! All supporters who donated $50 or more can find their names proudly gracing the spines of our “books.” And for those who contributed to the buy-a-shelf campaign, the names are now up. Cruise the stacks to find yours. Wandering the shelves, I’ve been pleased to find names I recognize as champions of minor sport in the hockey section, and art-lovers snuggled up below Colville and Thomson. It’s a lovely lasting legacy. Now, watch the shelves fill as we expand our holdings to fill the new, expanded space.

On April 30, the Friends of the Library will hold a special spring booksale, thanks to the further generosity of donors of used books, CDs, and DVDs, the better to put the finishing touches on the expanded library you helped to build.

Standing on your corner, the great, wide world around you, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. At the same time, you can also feel informed, engaged, enabled, and inspired.

Meet you at the corner.

Anne DeGrace is the adult services coordinator at the Nelson Municipal Library. Her columns appear every other week.