The Oley Valley Library Committee began in 2009 with the goal of establishing a branch of the Berks County Library System right here in the valley. A dedicated group of volunteers leapt into this mission with a clear vision, knowing that the entire community would benefit from a public library.
Indeed, since the doors opened two years ago, the Oley Valley Library has been everything the team imagined: a gathering place, a technology site, a learning spot, a place to connect. The library has hosted programs for preschoolers, teens, knitters, readers, genealogists, artists, writers, and more. There is so much potential as this hub of activity and resources gains momentum in the valley.
As exciting as all this is, progress on the second part of the library mission screeched to a halt as the County Library system considers how to share the 2.2 million dollars of state and county allocation across the county. At present, our area is the largest gap in the geographic library service area. At present, ours is the only school district that does not have a community library within its service area. At present, our application to the system is held to a set of rules that very few of the current branches actively meet. It is patently unfair, yet, our tax dollars are included in the 2.2 million dollar library allocation!
For those who wonder why the library allocation is so hard to share – or why we even need libraries – please visit any Berks County Public Library. Libraries are by no means quiet, archaic institutions. Libraries are busy, noisy, active places; modern necessities for a healthy society. Libraries are evolving but they are here to stay.
The OV Library Committee intends to continue as a full-steam operation while we work with the county to determine a long-term plan. There WILL be a place for the Oley Valley at the County Library table; it will just take longer than hoped.
Your help is needed more that ever to build a library branch in our community. Please join the effort by contacting the library today with your ideas, your volunteer commitment, and if you can your financial contribution.
A library is more than books, so much more!