Friday, November 13, 2009

A grand gift to the town from the man you can’t see - The Boston Globe

Albert Stone understands the value of libraries. I wish everyone did.

He has given the town of Townsend a great gift -- a new library. At a time when many people -- even educators -- are willing to kill or maim their school and town libraries, Mr. Stone funded a new one. (He is not alone; the wise voters of Walsenburg, Colorado recently did the same, without a major benefactor.)

Mr. Stone also seems to understand what a lot of rich people do not. None of us deserves great wealth, and none of us earns it on our own. Many who are wealthy point to the hard work it took to get wealthy, not realizing that many work even harder and remain poor. Mr. Stone recognizes that his success did not occur in a vacuum, and he is to be commended for giving something back.

In this case, he is giving the town a new heartbeat. I do not know anything about Townsend; maybe it has been weathering the recession just fine. But even in prosperous towns -- like my own -- the benefits of a good library increase during a recession. From the practical benefits of job hunting and skill-building to the solace of a place to spend productive and enjoyable time without spending money, a library is an essential investment in hard times.

And as some towns whack their library budgets, the bottom-line benefit of a library as comparative advantage should not be ignored; I cannot imagine that home values in Bridgewater will recover as quickly as those in towns with fully-funded libraries and schools.

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