A few weeks ago, a great tragedy hit our town. Some non-thinking degenerate dropped a firecracker into a book-return chute in our library and well… (photos credited to KPC Media)
Upwards of over 50,000 items are lost, including the entire film collection as you see above. And yes, I am super devastated because today was the first day photos of the damage were released to the public. This is the one most devastating to me.
Since I have lived in town, this library was one of my favorite places to go. Parents would take me for storytime, then a month-long historical camp for boys (there was a girls one as well), summer and winter reading programs, and so much more. I loved going through the shelves and seeing what kind of adventures lay in wait. But when my interest in film skyrocketed, this was the place for me to go but the story goes a little further back.
Around middle school and high school, Dad would go out to the library and borrow a bunch of films for us to watch on Saturday nights after church and picking up pizza. It was because of him that I saw classics like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Ben-Hur (the Charlton Heston one), Them!, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, and others. When I got heavily into film, I referred to the AFI Top 100 lists and did a lot of cross-indexing, updating it whenever the library got the film in their catalog. I saw Taxi Driver, Birth of a Nation, some Hitchcock and Kubrick films, and others. For a while, I’m pretty sure I was the only guy who borrowed David Lynch’s The Straight Story on VHS; at the time, it was the only film by him in the collection and it was one of the underrated ones.
Was it a big collection? Well, not as big as the large library in the next town over but it was enough to keep patrons satisfied. But now they are all gone. Because somebody thought it was worth destroying something so precious. They caught the guy but it’s going to take many months to get the library restored, especially since it’s a historic one.
At this point, they are taking monetary donations but I want to do something more. I do need to trim my personal film collection anyway by either upgrading to a higher format or just letting them have some, especially films that weren’t initially in their collection to begin with. So if anyone from the library sees this, I’m willing to help in any way possible.