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Friends of the Libraries: Lessons from the Panama Canal

March 07, 2013|By Mary Ellen Goddard

For some time after my husband read the book "The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914", by David McCullough, and recommended it to me as a "very readable" book, I have had it in my pile of reading material. But the very size of it, and the fact that it was nonfiction, kept me away. Finally, having overdosed on mysteries, I decided to tackle it. And I had a hard time putting it down. If you are interested in history, or public health, or technology, or even politics, it is a great read.

But what amazed me most was how big a job it was to complete the canal. It certainly is comparable to the space race today. Our country needs to be able to take on high-tech projects like this. Our public libraries can play an important part in preparing our residents — beginning with our young children, but not forgetting the rest of the population as well. If we are to progress, and not backslide, we can't leave it to chance.

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Selcuk Guceri, dean of engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, wrote in a recent letter to supporters, "During the last half century, we have seen rapid growth in the world population, shifting demographics and Internet-based communication. These developments come with increasing challenges in areas such as energy, water and food supply, depletion of valuable resources and healthcare.

"We are moving into a new phase where leadership depends on an innovation-based economy. Institutions of higher education support this economy by producing professional talent and research leading to new discoveries."

Public libraries are a first, and a continuing source, of learning for all of us. We need to support them.

At the Costa Mesa Donald Dungan Library

Children can improve their reading skills and boost their self-confidence by reading to a licensed therapy dog at 1 p.m. Saturday. Please contact the library at (949) 646-8845 for additional details.

Toddler Storytime will meet at 11 a.m. Monday and March 18. The children's librarian reads stories, sings songs and provides a craft and coloring sheets. Toy time takes place after the 20-minute storytime. Children and their families are welcome.

Every Thursday at 2 p.m., a bilingual storytime, geared toward preschoolers and elementary-aged children, is conducted in English and Spanish. Songs, stories and crafts are followed by time to play with toys. Children and their caregivers are encouraged to attend.

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