The ongoing debate over the future of the Clark Memorial Library is a classic example of the ever-growing conflict of traditionalism in a non-traditional world.
Clarkdale Mayor Doug Von Gausig didn’t make a lot of friends among traditionalists late last month when he said most of what people could formerly find only in libraries, they can now find on their smart phone. His comment surely rubbed many folks the wrong way, but there is a lot of truth in his words.
Let’s hope libraries never go the way of phone books and compact discs, but their future is likely more linked to digital resources than it is to rows and rows of book shelves.
In Clarkdale, the primary question on the table is if the community library is a vital function of the town government. Traditionalists predictably will argue it most definitely is. But there is ample evidence that good community libraries exist and even thrive without being an arm of the town government or exclusively reliant on municipal funding.
There was talk Tuesday, for example, that Clarkdale should explore the Sedona model of having a privately funded public library. In theory, it sounds good but does Clarkdale have enough deep pockets to replicate the Sedona model?
A more realistic option would be something similar to the Beaver Creek Public/School Library, which is one of 13 libraries in the Yavapai County Free Library District.
Or, perhaps Clarkdale should explore a joint library venture with Yavapai College, which already has a well-equipped library and it exists in the town limits.
But more than anything, there needs to be evidence that the Clark Memorial Library is a vital resource. Currently, it is not the community library of choice for most of the town’s residents. Of the current 15,134 card holders at the Cottonwood Public Library, 1,140 of those patrons live in Clarkdale. By comparison, only 605 Clarkdale residents claim the Clark…