We often refer to a place as being “the heart of the community,” but each community has several vital organs.
A school, a grocery store, a hospital or clinic—these are the institutions that all strong communities have in common. And no town, big or small, is complete without a library.
“There’s a lot of opportunity here,” says Ann Quinn, a volunteer at the Jeff Reichelt Memorial Library in Big Sandy.
The new library complex, built in 2017, offers a variety of services, previously lacking in the community. Preschoolers gather here for story time. Older children participate in educational programs and other activities. Community members without internet access can come here to use the computers. A meeting room can be reserved at all hours.
“It’s really a gathering place,” says Quinn. “We have been surprised by how many people come here just to see one another.” Over the summer, the library saw increased use by school-age children. While younger kids listened to stories or made crafts, their mothers visited or picked out books of their own. People of all ages participated in the weekly scavenger hunt (a page of questions about resources in the library).
Quinn says it’s a delight to have room for more books, activities, and people in the library. Prior to the new facility’s opening, the public library was consigned to a portion of the local FSA building. A dry goods store was donated to the county for use as a library in 2007, but after inspection, it was found that floor joists were rotting. A local farmer-rancher purchased the building, and on his behalf, the community tore it down to erect something brand new.
Construction began in 2014.
“I was asked if I would like to sign up for the steering committee,” Quinn remembers. She was a little reluctant to take on the responsibility (with several others), but one thought drove her forward: “I knew we needed a library.”
Today, Big Sandy has a great library, a building that’s serves its community as not only the heart, but the hands and brain as well.