My dad could squeeze a dime like nobody’s business.
I remember walking past the stores downtown when I was just a little girl. I would look in the windows at all the toys and other things that little girls want, and my dad would say, “You don’t want that stuff. Those stores are just out to get your money.” When I got a little older he would say, “You can’t afford that. Save your money.” I get it. He was a saver and there is no fault in that. He knew the value of money in the bank.
When I became an adult, I had the opportunity to purchase the blueprinting business where I worked. I went down to the local library, learned how to write a business plan, did my research, gathered the data, and made my pitch to the bank. They loaned me the money and I became an independent small business owner. I was talking to my dad after I had been operating the shop for a few years and he said, “I can’t believe that you borrowed all that money.” I said, “Well Dad, if I had that much money why would I be operating a print shop?”
Somewhere along the line, I realized that I had internalized my dad’s mantra. When I saw something that I wanted, I heard his voice in my head saying, “You can’t afford that.” I realized that I needed another story. We’ve all heard the saying, it takes money to make money. I decided to change the story in my mind. Every time I thought about Dad saying, “you can’t afford it,” I would tell myself, “nothing but the best for me.” If I wanted to compete, I had to continue to up my game. When my equipment aged out of service, I went shopping. When the demands of technology outstripped my computer capability, I upgraded. When industry standards changed, I signed up for continuing education. Nothing but the best for me.
When I went to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro to earn my master’s degree in Library and Information Studies, I learned that libraries exist to meet the needs of the users. Research from the Institute of Museum and Library Services reports that “while high school dropout rates have decreased in the last decade, approximately 3 million teens still quit school each year in the United States. African American and Latino teens are more likely to drop out than white teens. High school dropouts are not eligible for 90 percent of U.S. jobs and commit 75 percent of the crimes in the United States.”
Throughout Robeson County our libraries are struggling with lack of funding to upgrade our facilities, provide access to technology, and support basic literacy for the children, teens and adults in our communities.
It’s time to change the story. Change “we can’t afford that” to “nothing but the best for us.” Our future depends on it. Regardless of how many jails we build, we can only incarcerate so many. The rest of us will need skills for jobs.
Catie Roche is the director of the Robeson County Public Library. The opinions expressed are her own. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Catie is reading “Igniting a Passion for Reading: Successful Strategies for Building Lifetime Readers” by Steven L . Layne