As our community continues to mark the centennials of both Sarasota and Charlotte counties, I have been thinking about common ground. Reflecting back on history can be sentimental, fascinating, and painful, depending on the lens one is looking through. Navigating the present and envisioning the future can be equally conflicting and complex. How do we reconcile the triumphant and admirable with the shameful episodes, the inspiring with the unjust? How do we learn and commit to doing better, without discarding the traditions in which we find profound meaning and comfort? Perhaps we can do so through finding common ground.
When looking at what divides people, both in our history and in our present, the suggestion of finding common ground can feel insincere or impossible. But at the library, all things are possible, and I propose that common ground can be found through the power of your library card! Because we can find common ground in stories—whether read, heard, or watched.
Throughout the fiction section at the Elsie Quirk Library you will find displays of books written from a wide range of viewpoints, by authors from a spectacular variety of backgrounds. Whatever genre you are partial to, by reading a diversity of authors you may find familiarity where you expected disconnect, understanding where you expected disregard. If you prefer watching to reading, in our DVD section you can explore lives unlike your own. Watching movies written or directed by a spectrum of people, you may recognize yourself in others’ stories, and appreciate others in new ways. If you prefer interaction, try signing up for a library program to take advantage of the unique opportunity to converse with people in your community who you might not otherwise encounter. Whatever your preferred format, the library offers a wealth of resources to find commonality and understand difference.
It is tempting to stand firmly in one’s circle and insist that one doesn’t want to find common ground with those people over there because their values are so very much in conflict with one’s own. But with a little courage, by exploring the stories of others and hearing the experiences of others—even of those who offend you or of whom you are skeptical—it is possible to find common ground without compromising your integrity. It is possible to find the places that your humanity connects to others, even to those with whom you fundamentally disagree; and through finding these places that we connect, we can build towards a bicentennial that our great grandchildren will rejoice in.
A Sampling of Library Events, Opportunities, and Resources to Explore:
Take home bags full of amusement.
- Scrapbook Bags
All ages can enjoy our scrapbook bags—memorialize this historic moment, make a centennial scrapbook, create a lovely gift for your best friend….
- Job Seekers Kit
A purple folder packed with helpful tips, resources, and tools for job seekers, available at our community resource table.
- Care Kits
Reusable sinch bags with useful everyday items for those in need, such as personal hygiene supplies, sox, first aid supplies, and Kind Bars, available by asking any library staff member.
- Snack Bags
Full of popular snacks for children and teens 18 and under, available in the youth department.
Sign up or learn more at: scgovlibrary.librarymarket.com/events
- Alphabet Storytime
Online storytime for kids, enjoy Elsie Quirk’s own Cris and George reading books with their favorite letters, and discover new library friends from other branches.
- Tech by Zoom
Need help with your new phone? Can’t figure out how to get e-books on your iPad? Want to find out how to make Word stop putting spaces where you don’t want them? Set up a tech by Zoom appointment with an Elsie Quirk staff member by registering online or giving us a call. We are also happy to talk you through setting up a Zoom account over the phone.
- Trivia Walk
Keep an eye out for Elsie Quirk’s trivia walks, happening throughout the 100 days of centennial celebration. Pick up an answer card at the desk, stroll the walkway to read our trivia boards, and submit your answers to be entered into a drawing for intriguing prizes.