Nonusers are the key to library campaign

A member of Milford’s capital improvement plan advisory committee made a point last week about plans to expand the Wadleigh Memorial Library that just might be more important than anything else in this latest attempt to get a proposal past voters:

He told library trustees that they will need to persuade people who vote, but who don’t use the library.

And that’s a problem because voters tend to be reluctant to support something that they don’t feel benefits them now or will benefit them later. Eventually they supported a new police station and then a new ambulance bay and an expanded fire station when the need for those facilities became evident to almost everyone.

And they got around to supporting expanded or new schools because they either had children or grandchildren or bought into the concept that education could directly benefit them, because educated people make the world better. Or, at the very least, they know good schools keep up property values.

But a library? Come on. What’s that? A building full of books that nobody reads because … nobody reads books. That, anyway, appears to be the opinion of at least one selectman — clearly one of those people about whom Rodney Richey was speaking.

The library renovation and expansion has been a tough sell, rejected twice by voters, in part, at least, because the previous designs whiped out the front lawn and made the building look too urban. This new plan eliminates that issue.

Certainly it’s true that a lot of people in Milford don’t use the Wadleigh. That’s their loss. It is much more than a place for books, magazines, movies and computers. It is a community gathering place. One of the proposals in the new plan is for a bigger children’s room which is of great importance. Getting kids into a libary and away from their screens will benefit them and all of us and one way to do that is to get them into a place where they are surrounded by books and interacting with people who love books.

Richey is right, though: The nonusers are the key, just as the naysayers are always the key to budget battles. It’s easy to not think and just say no, especially when it comes to money, and we’ve seen that a lot over the years with town and school spending packages.