LEAD LETTER OF THE WEEK

Letter | Myrtle Beach should act to preserve Chapin Library

August 11, 2013 

Chapin Memorial Library is the meeting place for literacy tutors and their students.

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My hometown has many distinctions both good and bad; among the positive ones is Chapin Memorial Library, South Carolina's only municipal public library, which began operation in 1949 through the generosity of the Simeon B. Chapin Foundation.

For nearly three quarters of a century, residents and visitors alike have found a helpful staff devoted to providing them with reading and other materials for enjoyment and education and many young people growing up in the city, including the undersigned, have been introduced to a love of reading and learning that continued throughout their lives.

The late Shirley W. Boone was a walking repository of the history of Myrtle Beach and the current staff continues that legacy of preserving and promoting that history.

It is disturbing, then, to learn of proposals to fold this unique resource into the Horry County Library system as a cost saving measure. While the County Libraries do a fine job of serving their patrons, they do not have the focus on Myrtle Beach that Chapin Library does.

While the annual budget of approximately $1.2 million is a not-inconsiderable sum, it is a small fraction of a $158.5 million annual budget and modest cuts could streamline even those expenses.The Charleston Library Society has been in operation as a subscription library -- people join on an annual basis -- for more than 260 years.

While I'm not suggesting that Chapin Memorial Library become a subscription library (among other things doing so would violate the spirit (and possibly the letter of the law in which it was given to the city), imagine what might be done with public-private partnerships and increased cultural programs (perhaps with a reasonable admissions fee charged) that benefit the community and help to raise funds for the library's operation.

Imagine talks by authors and other lecturers who educate, inform, and inspire. Imagine a Chapin Memorial Library that is recognized as not only a great library but the nexus of cultural life in the city.

I hope that the city will explore every possible option before letting that asset fade away.

The writer is vicar of St. Thomas Church in Moncks Corner.

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