It is clear from the presentation at the Elks hall this past week, that this community should be proud that it has a very dedicated staff, board and volunteers from throughout the area, who have pursued on behalf of the people in this valley community, an option to provide a safer, larger, more sustainable environment in which to operate library/museum services into the future.

As a teacher and former rural director for regional district, I have worked extensively throughout the district in both rural and urban settings and had the privilege of experiencing how rural communities share greater responsibility in raising the youth of their communities. I have also seen how they share concern for maintaining services in which their seniors and elders continue to feel empowered as citizens their local youth can look up to, appreciate, and learn from, for the experience, history, and pride these elder citizens have in their local rural roots.

The schools in this valley have teachers and principals dedicated to lifelong learning of their students. As citizens also of the rural community however, they also have great capacity to understand how their communities at large contribute to that process. They know firsthand that the foundation of literacy begins before children come to school, but they also see the impact of accessibility to an extensive and welcoming public library with programs that nurture these foundations, as well as the impact of a community that nurtures participation of elders with youth because of their knowledge, respect and roots in local history, particularly pronounced in the rural setting.

While the economic benefits of businesses and essential services such as waste collection, emergency, road, hospital and the impact of sport facilities are very visible to a population, the impact of libraries and museums are much less visible and often much less understood for their contribution to the stability of a community. They are, however, no less critical. Lifelong learning cannot easily be measured, but it is felt. The commitment to an exploration and learning service for McBride and area demonstrates a community committed to looking forward, by recognizing the human resources within all of its services which contribute to the economic viability of a community.

When the audience in the Elks hall was asked for words that immediately came to mind upon seeing the words For Sale on 521 Main, it was natural to hear responses such as dead and dying. However, the word I felt the photo represented was ‘struggle’, no different from any other small town dealing with hardships and pressures of restructuring and rebuilding some industries, while recognizing and nurturing the growth of steadfast industries such as agriculture or destination tourism, and realizing the potential of its number one resource, people committed to forward thinking.

Financing through the Municipal Finance Authority at less than 3% is a sound business decision for this building. The location reflects a welcome site for this facility in close proximity to shopping and other activities that occur on the main street of a local rural service centre that both needs and nurtures widespread community involvement. There are many opportunities when you’re in a stable environment enjoyed by the community, to promote and raise additional funding from outside sources.

Elizabeth Abbs