Don’t you just love an inspiring American success story? I do too, and I have a great one to share with you. It involves a poor, young Scottish immigrant and the Wauseon Public Library.
In 1848, Andrew Carnegie left Scotland and came to America with his parents in search of a better life. In America, the family fell on hard times, and at age 12, young Andrew quit school and went to work to help his mom and dad. He started as a bobbin boy in a cotton mill, then he became a telegraph messenger. It was there that Andrew met Colonel James Anderson. Col. Anderson recognized Andrew’s passion for reading and opened his personal library on Saturdays so Andrew could borrow books. Andrew Carnegie vowed then and there, “If wealth ever came to me, I will see to it that other poor boys might receive opportunities similar to mine.”
Andrew kept working hard, built Carnegie Steel from the ground up, and became the world’s richest man. He also remembered the promise he made many years before. Carnegie donated 90 percent of his fortune to build 1,500 libraries all across the United States. He provided funds to build and equip the libraries, but only on condition that the local towns matched that by providing the land and a budget for operation and maintenance. The citizens of Wauseon stepped up and matched Carnegie’s challenge, and he contributed $8,000 to build the new library as he promised. In 1906, the library opened in the same location and in the same building we use today.
Over the last five years, the Wauseon Public Library has added over 1,000 new family cards and purchased over 9,000 new materials including books, audiobooks, DVDs, magazines and newspapers that the public can check out for free. Other free services provided by the library are eBooks, eCards, scanning, internet service, WiFi and WiFi hotspots, homebound/curbside delivery, and rapid COVID tests.
The library also has free programs and supplies for children, teens, and adults, including Storytime, Facebook Live, 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten, 100 Books Before Graduation, Mystery Book Discussion, and Card Making Grab and Go. In addition to these free services, the Wauseon Public Library is a steadfast partner in our community by participating in the Farmer’s Market, Chili Cook-off, Fulton County Fair, Wauseon Homecoming, Head Start, and after school programs. The library also is a heating and cooling station, collects eyeglasses for the Lions Club, and recycles ink jet cartridges and cell phones.
It is time for the citizens of Wauseon to step up once again to renew the library levy. The funds are used for the daily operation of the library, such as utilities, maintenance, and upkeep of our equipment. If you have any questions, call the library at 419-335-6626. This is not a new levy, and your tax bill won’t change. It’s to continue our promise to Andrew Carnegie to provide a budget for operation and maintenance as we have done for the past 115 years.