By Toni Momberger, Redlands
I recently joined the Friends of the A.K. Smiley Library, which, for $10 a year, makes the fantastic selection of bestsellers in the used-book store half price.
Although I grew up in Redlands -- going to the library in the summer and on the odd evening when I was in high school because I procrastinated and needed to read “Tale of Two Cities” before morning -- I didn’t really have much of a relationship with the facility as an adult.
Mostly I would point it out to visitors in my braggy voice, or appear in the Assembly Room as some group’s guest speaker. I mean, I always loved the Smiley, I just didn’t really use it.
The more I learn about it though, the more I am agape that anyone wouldn’t grab at what is offered. There’s something for everyone.
The number on the library card alone is a golden ticket.
For those whose budget makes access to those books a luxury, that library card is equality. It’s opportunity.
For those who prefer electronic or audiobooks, it’s free downloads.
For those seeking information in the Redlands Daily Facts online archives or a current online subscription, it’s unlimited access.
For those who use the garden, it’s a peaceful afternoon.
For those who don’t have their own computers but need an email address and a place to use it, it’s the ability to function.
For those whose children need a safe place to wait for a ride after school, it’s security.
For those who bid in the weekly silent auction, it’s good deals on rare finds.
For those using the online auto repair reference center or health advice service, it’s comfort.
For those who can help their children with homework because literacy volunteers taught them to read, it’s dignity. It’s memories.
For community groups who book the Assembly Room, it’s a gathering place.
For those who shop in the used-book store, it’s adventures by the bagful (50 cents a paperback and you can read them in the bathtub, turning the pages with wet fingers all you want.)
For Redlanders who inhale the smell of their childhood when they enter, it’s tradition.
For adults who want to hear world-class authors and experts speak at no charge, it’s educational and interesting evenings among neighbors.
For the families who sit for storytime, it’s friendship.
For homeowners researching their property in the Heritage Room, it’s a personal connection to the past.
For the volunteers, it’s the ability to make a difference for anyone who accepts the gift.
The Smiley is a treasure for all who enjoy the sense of community it supports. Long may the pages turn.
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