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The library is cool and sets an example for community

Temperatures nearing triple digits earlier this week revealed a truth as blistering as the heat itself: McMinnville remains woefully lacking in places where people at the mercy of the elements can find relief.

Whether in the heat of the summer or the cold in winter, the McMinnville Public Library serves as one of the few reliable places where the poor and homeless can turn for assistance. That puts a lot of pressure on the library.

A few churches and private nonprofit organizations also offer cooling and warming centers, but the library’s hours and location make it the most viable option. There are no other city-owned facilities that provide the service with the same hospitable philosophy.

People who meet certain conditions can shower for $2 at the McMinnville Community Center. However, the center has too few staff members to monitor all the remote spaces where people can wander off.

Inevitably, all roads lead back to the library. But you won’t hear any librarians complaining.

They embrace the role of the library as a place that should be free and open to everyone, whether they are there to study the complete works of Shakespeare or just need a place to hang out for the day.

That attitude, while admirable, naturally carries a price. Many people suffer from more than homelessness and poverty. They arrive with mental health issues that can, on occasion, disrupt the tranquility of the library.

You still won’t hear any librarians objecting.

Most of them complete training sessions where they learn how to de-escalate potentially volatile situations. The result is a library that welcomes people of all kinds and remains a place where people of all kinds can feel safe. No one need feel afraid to take youngsters to the library, especially now with a beautifully redesigned children’s room.

All the credit goes to the librarians. A public library, by definition, is a place to share. Most people who choose library work as a profession take that mission to heart. The rest of the community should emulate them.

The experience of the library proves how welcoming the entire community need not degenerate into chaos and peril. In fact, the risks decrease with the number of doors that remain open.

We aren’t suggesting local banks let the homeless hang out in their break rooms. But the library proves the most perilous place for a homeless person to remain is in the overheated imaginations of other people.

The library gives much to the community. The community should give back by accepting a greater share of responsibility to care for its most vulnerable members.

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Lulu

These folks do not recognize the Zone of Silence, fast becoming the Zone of B.O.

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