An agreement can be found to provide library services to all

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This I believe: When you find yourself smiling for an hour you are in a good place. And when that smile is caused by watching over 130 happily dancing babies, kids and parents rocking out to Recess Monkey, a band composed of youthful energetic teachers, I believe those 130 dancers are in a good place, too.

For 21 years that place, for me, has been the Walla Walla Public Library.

This I believe: I am very lucky. Lucky because what I am doing is what I enjoy doing and that is to bring the community together in a lovely place full of books and technology — a space filled with opportunities to learn, to explore unknowns, to take armchair adventures, to feel welcome and supported and to sometimes even watch someone nearly dance their diaper off.

I believe I’m lucky to be working with wonderful people who make good things happen every day for so many. I believe I’m lucky to have a thrifty crew who can find local partnerships and grants; a City Council determined to help us with funding, and big hearted generous Walla Wallans ready to make things happen at the library.

This I believe: Library services are at the core of a great community. They are one of society’s great equalizers — all citizens have the right to the services of their public library — services that can and do change lives.

This I believe: We all still love a story whether told on a paper page or a Kindle’s page, and the library provides both.

But is the future of libraries changing? Yes, and it is challenging to try to predict how those changes will impact our services. So far, the Internet has only caused our foot traffic and the circulation of materials to soar.

Because of it we provide more and better services. I believe our job is to look to the future, keep our finger on the pulse of changing technology and find our role within that change.

We have applied for a substantial technology grant that would provide skills training and access opportunities for interested teens in a special setting at the library because we care about them and want to continue to be meaningful for all ages.

This I believe: When you see someone’s eyes glaze over, they are telling you they are not interested in your story. That is what I have encountered lately.

Who-did-what in the big fight between the local libraries is a dull and too oft-told story.

This is what I have come to believe: If you spend taxpayer money wisely, apply your experience and education wisely, listen to your constituents and respond with their wishes in mind, then your actions will speak for themselves. The actions at the library have resulted in enough people (600 a day) and over 332,000 library materials checked out in a year, to meet national benchmarks.

And finally, this is something else I believe in: The whole story.

It is not that the library negotiations ended without a solution that would work to bring the city library and the Rural Library District together. Rather we identified a number of solutions but could not agree on employing any one of them.

I believe an agreement is to be found in being economical, effectively using all available space, reaching out beyond our walls, and using the long-term contracts considered during negotiations to provide full library services for all residents in the city and the county.

Beth Hudson is the director of the Walla Walla Public Library. Her email is bhudson@ci.walla-walla.wa.us

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