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Editorial: West library — at last

It’s a sign of prosperity when your community can stop wishing for a much-wanted service and actually get it. That time has come for residents of western Rowan County who want a full-fledged branch library. The area has gotten by for years with different arrangements. Thanks to the work of Rowan Public Library, its Friends organization and and the Rowan County Board of Commissioners, a western branch of the county library will soon take shape in Cleveland.

A good bit of the “shape” is already in place. Cleveland Elementary School is about to be torn down and replaced, but the auditorium and media center can be saved and converted for library use. Commissioners included money in the 2017-18 budget for an architect to draft designs, and the Friends have raised money to help get things going.

Jeff Hall, head of Rowan Public Library, said Monday that the western Rowan library would be smaller than the county’s other libraries  in China Grove, Salisbury and Rockwell. But it will offer much more than the earlier, limited options were able to provide.

A pubic library is so much more than a place to hold books. In the digital age, a good library is information central, with computers, internet access, informative workshops and so much more. Libraries help build community, acting as a gathering place and connecting people and ideas.

The children’s component of Rowan’s libraries is especially important, introducing children at a very early age to the joy of sharing stories. Library programs stimulate their imagination, grow their vocabulary and develop reading skills. It’s one of the best uses of taxpayers’ money.

The people of the western part of the county are due a library in closer proximity, and they’re about to get it. Add to this the new Western Rowan Elementary School being built nearby — replacing Woodleaf and Cleveland elementary schools — and you have big improvements in store for western Rowan. That’s good for all of Rowan County.

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