I’d rather have libraries than liquor stores open on Sundays

Managing Editor

The Minnesota Legislature’s recent decision to erase what were termed ‘antiquated’ liquor laws that were part of Sunday Blue Laws will do nothing to improve the lives of families, but yet there was a groundswell of support for the change.

It will mean people will have to put less thought into when to make liquor purchases, because there will be stores open every day of the week. And for when those special occasions crop up for adults of legal age and there’s a desire celebrate with alcohol, they can run off to the store.

It will also mean people who didn’t have to work on Sundays now will. And it will mean people who shouldn’t have one more drink — or even one at all — will have the convenience to buy every single day of the week.

While I won’t be running off to buy champagne to celebrate the change, I, like most liquor store operators in the area, have accepted that the change is coming.

What I would celebrate is if my local library were open on Sunday. I wouldn’t do it with a six pack, but, to me, there’s a whole lot more societal appeal to having access to one of the most unsung heroes of the community.

I’m saddened that there’s no movement to making a trip to the local library more convenient. I guess I got spoiled. I grew up in Anoka County and the library I frequented was always open Sundays.

By the time I was in high school, I had a deep appreciation for going out with friends on Friday night and Saturday night, and on Sunday, when it was time to hit the books to research projects, write essays and complete various homework assignments, I could locate all the resource materials I needed and find a quiet corner of the Northtown Library to complete my work. I even studied there.

And, when I needed a break, I could wander around and find materials I had a personal interest in.

Granted, things have changed.

The internet exists, and there are many more ways of accessing resource materials than the decades-old practices I used.

But the libraries are still great places for countless more reasons than I knew of when I was a kid or have suggested today.

I say it’s time to check out your local library if you haven’t in a while. And if you have young children, I order you go for the sake of your kids and future generations.

This is the perfect time to do it. National Library Week, set for April 9-15, is a time to celebrate the many ways libraries are changing the lives of people in communities like Elk River through the services and expertise they offer.

This year’s theme, “Libraries Transform,” honors how libraries and library workers around the nation continue to meet the varied and changing needs of those they serve, almost every day.

Visit your local library, and if you like the experience and wish the library was open on Sunday, tell someone. Send Great River Regional Library a letter if you’re so moved.
The Elk River City Council understands the importance of its local library, and it’s fighting for its citizens to improve access to the Elk River Library. I hope their efforts to add a few hours to the schedule are the beginning of a groundswell to open libraries up on Sundays.
It certainly seems a more noble goal than ensuring everyone (of legal age) can grab a case of beer, a box of wine or bottle of whiskey on a Sunday.

National Library Week serves as a yearly reminder that the services and opportunities offered by libraries strengthen society and play an important role in the democratic process.

Let’s use this time to reflect on what we have. As Great River Regional Library points out, there’s more to your local library than you may realize.

Its 32 locations with nearly 1 million books, CDs and DVDs are equipped with 250 public computers, the latest technology and are available to all. They feature classes on job development and spoken and written language skills. They offer year-round programs for youth. They’re hubs for community organizations needing inclusive, accessible space.

Access to library offerings has become easier than ever through www.griver.org. Each library within the Great River Regional Library system is connected with a floating collection. If your local library doesn’t have something you want, you can request it through GRRL’s catalog and receive it in a few days.

And, if you can’t find what you’re looking for within the GRRL system, librarians can help you track it down, no matter where it might be.

Libraries certainly aren’t what they used to be, which is a good a reason to explore your local Great River Regional Library if you haven’t yet.

Once you do, you might come to the same conclusion as me. They should be open on Sunday. Once they are, I will gladly raise a glass to toast that change. — Jim Boyle, editor