Where else can we go year round in Cadillac and have it feel like Christmas every day. Almost every item in the 19,000 square foot building is available for us to choose — to take home — for free. In 2019, I was given $2123 worth of “gifts.‘ Full disclosure: these gifts were given to me to use for one to three weeks and then I had to return them. But during that “giving‘ period I made full use of the gifts, got what I wanted out of them and was more than happy to return them.

You may have guessed that the building is the Cadillac Wexford Public Library. In some cities, the library is dozens of thousands of square feet, which just means that those lucky folks have that much more to choose from than me. But guess what? If that library is in Michigan, more than likely I can ask to have items in that distant library sent to CWPL for my use.

One of my favorite library quotes is from the actor, Kirk Douglas: "My mother and my father were illiterate immigrants from Russia. When I was a child they were constantly amazed that I could go to a building and take a book on any subject. They couldn't believe this access to knowledge we have here in America. They couldn't believe that it was free."

Reading this quote for the first time crystallized for me how I had always felt about libraries, the wonder of them all. These books (including audio and e-books), music CDs, movie DVD’s, computer access, reference librarians, staff, children and adult programs/events, were all available to me for free.

Of course, all public services are tax-payer funded. With libraries, community members choose how much of the service they want to use. And who were the city fathers who made the best decision of all in locating the library at the east end of Lake Cadillac, providing us wonderful lake views and sunsets year-round.

It is encouraging to see bicycles (and sometimes kayaks fresh off Lake Cadillac) parked outside our library, to see children and teens hanging out in the children’s room and teen area, others using the computers. People of all ages are reading books, newspapers and magazines in reading areas, or ensconced in the Quiet Room studying or for more intense reading. Parents come in with children, all returning and leaving with stacks of books in each of their arms.

One of my favorite local library quotes is hearing a young girl putting books in the book return slot by the check-out counter. As each of her children’s picture books were deposited: “This is my favorite book. No, this was my favorite book. No, this was my favorite.‘

The Friends of the Cadillac Wexford Library was formed 20 years ago to support and promote the library. One of the first things we were asked to do was to take over the Used Book Sales. The library is constantly reviewing the books in circulation and deciding which should be removed to make room for new books. Book Sales include books removed from circulation along with book donations from community members.

Money raised from the sales go back to the library by funding: summer reading programs; children, family and adult events (i.e. Ed the pumpkin carver, live Reindeer, authors’ visits); and community projects such as the Seward Johnson bronze sculptures in 2012-13 that put the Friends on the map in our community. In celebration and with community encouragement, the Friends purchased the sculpture of the Reading Girl that sits in front of the Library’s main entrance. To help identify the Library building from all sides, the Friends purchased the Library sign that sits on the corner of Lake and Chapin.

Throughout our 20 years, the Friends have often been a core group who organize these events and projects with the ability to call on other members to help out and support us. Without a dozen or more members helping at our book sales we couldn’t do them. The Friends are also proud of helping to get the CWPL Adult Literacy program started.

To help us celebrate our 20th anniversary, we encourage all of our current members to attend our Annual Meeting on Tuesday, October 15, at Lakeside Charlie’s. We are also looking for new members to join us for lunch, entertainment (Northern Lites Readers Theatre) and a brief meeting to recount our past year (and maybe delve a little into the past 20 years). Current members and those interested in joining can RSVP by October 11 for the meeting at 231-429-5462 or email at rokitaro55@gmail.com.

Driving by the Library late at night recently, I noticed for the first time how well lit the lakefront side of the CWPL is and how clearly one can read the Albert Einstein quote (another Friends’ gift) that says it all: "The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library."