LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Writer shares praise, concerns for library services

Posted

As a retired school media specialist and longtime patron of the Sumter County Library, I am writing to let you know how much I continue to enjoy the resources and programs that are offered by your facility. My grandchildren were also patrons and I feel that their experiences there have served to enhance their adult lives as they prepare to entertain and educate their children in the future through library services where they reside.

I do, however, have a concern regarding the representation of African American or Latino literature in your collection. I have a passion for historical fiction as well as biographies and fiction in these genres. In my online searches, I have encountered quite a few titles, most of which are not in the system in Sumter.

My sorority is engaged in reading programs for disadvantaged youth, many of which are African American. I am also aware of other programs of this nature throughout our fair city. Sadly, there is very little representation of African American or Latino ethnicity present in your library collection, particularly in the area of literature for children and young adults.

I am sure that you and your staff are eager to correct this oversight so that ALL patrons will be able to relate to characters and events that are relevant to their lives. I would like to suggest that your staff peruse the Caldecott and Newberry award winners and honorable mentions before placing your next order as a starting point to strengthen the collection in this area. In that way, all taxpayers of Sumter County will begin to be served.

Additionally, I would appreciate it if you would use your influence with city officials to correct the inferior conditions of the South Sumter Library. I, along with others, have made comparisons of that facility to the branch at Wesmark. There is no comparison.

South Sumter is merely a stuffy, windowless storage area with an almost non-existent inventory. I believe there are two rows of children's books, and two rows that include fiction and non-fiction for adults. That is truly sad.

However, Wesmark has a complete children's section, separate from the adult section, where they can enjoy the resources while making joyful noises, as well as remain safe. Their children and adult inventory appears to be quite sufficient. The facility is bright, airy, and inviting. I feel that the patrons of the South Sumter area deserve the same consideration. I am sure that there are arguments that residents do not avail themselves of the current facility. It is so inferior that I don't blame them. "If you build it, they will come." As a librarian, I am sure that you have concerns about serving the entire community, as we were taught in library school. Any intervention you are able to create on behalf of the underserved patrons of the Sumter area, who also pay taxes, would be greatly appreciated.

CAROL D. JAMES

Retired School Media Specialist

Sumter