The Columbus Metropolitan Library has opened its latest rebuilt branch, but it's one that already carries an incredible amount of history and legacy.
Mike Foley explains.
On September 2, 1969 the Columbus Metropolitan Library system opened the Martin Luther King branch on East Long Street. It became the first public library in the country to honor the famed civil rights leader Martin Luther King Junior, who was assassinated in 1968. Still reeling from his son's death, Martin Luther King Senior came to Columbus for that 1969 dedication ceremony. Over the last few years, the library system has been revitalizing and rebuilding its branches to meet the needs of a growing community. On Thursday, Martin Luther King III stood in front of a brand new library just a couple blocks away to dedicate Martin Luther King branch.
"When my grandfather addressed the audience that gathered on the dedication nearly half a century ago, he urged the community to make friends with books," he said. "That's still great advice. Books and stories will get us through difficult times. If you can't travel, books can take you anywhere in the world. There's no excuse to be uninformed today, although there are some of us who are."
King did not mention anybody by name, but it became obvious who he was referring to as he noted the division and lack of civility that exist in America.
"When are we going to use not just our minds and our thoughts, but when are we going to use our ideas," he asked. "We are really a great country and a great people. We don't need to become great again. Greatness already exists right now. Now, are we as good as we are supposed to be - absolutely not. We have a lot of work to do, but greatness is in the midst of us already. All I'm saying is we are better than the behavior we exhibit. My dad said that a vote-less people is a powerless people. One of the most important steps we can take is that short step to the ballot box. We've got a major election happening here on November 6 in this nation. We need to vote like we've never voted before."
The third generation King concluded with some advice from his father.
"Dad used to tell us that in life you must find what your calling is," he said. "And when you identify that calling, you must do your job so well. Do that job so well that the living and the dead or the unborn could do that job no better. He went on to say that even in life, if it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, go on and sweep streets like Michelangelo carved marble. Go on and sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the host of the heavens and earth would have to pause and say here lived a great street sweeper that did his job well. Be ashamed to die until you've done a little something to make the world in which we all must live a little better than it was when you arrived."
King also told the crowd that all of us are better by using public libraries. Features in the new branch include more space for programs and areas for kids to read, study and use computers. There's also a larger homework help center where students can receive free after-school assistance. Meanwhile, Columbus Metropolitan Library officials say the new Dublin branch remains on schedule to open next summer. Then work will begin on four additional branches at the Hilltop, Karl Road, Reynoldsburg, and Gahanna locations.