A center of knowledge

EAST LIVERPOOL — When a call is placed to 330-303-2110, the greeting by a volunteer is “Hello, Community Center” or if we are not too busy it might be “Hi, East Liverpool Area Community Center.” This shortened version of the East Liverpool Area Community & Learning Center omits half of our charitable purpose. The communal and social function of the Center is closely tied to the promulgation and dissemination of knowledge through offering unique learning opportunities.

The Community Center does not seek to be the go-to place for learning in the Tri-State Area. Public libraries would be your best choice. The East Liverpool Carnegie Public Library was opened in 1902. It was one of the first Carnegie libraries in Ohio. Andrew Carnegie actually spent much of his childhood in East Liverpool and had many friends here. Carnegie was one of the most generous philanthropists of his time. Over the 84 years of his life, Andrew Carnegie donated $76 billion in 2015 dollars to many good causes. His charity of choice was the 3,000 libraries located in 47 states of this country, Canada, Great Britain, and other English-speaking countries. Wellsville has a Carnegie Library and Chester offers a third library in the area.

There are additional educational opportunities other than the several public schools. We have colleges and universities, New Castle School of Trades, the historic Museum of Ceramics, the Lou Holtz/Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame, Buckeye Online School for Success, and the Lincoln Park School of the Performing Arts in Midland, to mention a few. However the business of delivering knowledge has been changed radically through recent developments in information technology.

No one today can remember when the pony express was replaced with telegraph lines as the primary source of disseminating information over long distances. However there are many people today who remember when their family would gather around the radio in the 1930s and l940s to get the latest news about the ravages of the Great Depression and then World War II. Updates on progress in the war were also shown as an introduction to movies shown at theatres.

Local radio station WOHI could deliver some news to the public more rapidly than the printed version in the East Liverpool Review. Radio newsman Paul Zehnder chased down stories then. The Review — Editor Glenn Waight and Reporter Bob Popp — would present stories in print, with more detailed information. Then television assumed the role as the favorite method, for some, of receiving news and information.

Today the dissemination of information has emerged into yet another form called social media. This has attracted much attention amid controversy because it is unfiltered information which requires the public to apply its own best judgment in analyzing what is truth. However the social media recently found new justification due to some good features it brings to information distribution. Lives saved this past week during Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana through Facebook, Twitter, and smart phones has forced detractors to reconsider the true value in these new means of information delivery.

At the Community Center we try to bring our own style of information exchange to a world that demands instant gratification. One problem with texting and emailing is that it fails to develop skills through direct personal communication. The Center offers Wi-Fi accessibility throughout the Center. At your Community & Learning Center, we seek to offer a blend of our unique forms of information dissemination combined with personal interaction with others (our neighbors).

The Legacy & Legends Lecture series is an example. These events begin with a social reception for participants followed by a lecture by knowledgeable speakers, and then an open question-and-answer session that includes input from the audience. A video recording of each event is stored for future review and analysis. Some other interactive exchanges include the movie matinees where family participation is welcome; garden and bridge classes; piano lessons; art instruction; children’s interactive video games in the Jay Room; knitting “gossip” sessions; kids dance and gymnastics; and video media viewing of artistic renderings of Hans Hacker, as well as other historical records of the community’s past.

Recently a community service club, together with the local public library approached the Center with a proposal to establish a Little Free Library there. Since 2005, thousands of these mini libraries have been established all over the country and around the World. One small town alone claims to have over 100 Little Libraries. Someone places books in a “box” on his property. A neighbor picks up a book and then replaces it with another one. This can lead to neighbors interacting, while discussing the books’ contents. This has spawned a new industry of selling pre-constructed Little Libraries boxes that can be purchased online. The library location is registered with the supplier and is assigned a Charter Number to be attached to the Library Box.

Some people seem to be determined to complain about almost anything. In Kansas, a nine year-old boy enjoyed his Little Free Library until the day the City Council declared that due to a complaint received about a violation of the community’s zoning ordinances, he must remove his illegal “structure attachment.” He was even threatened with a fine.

There would be no such problem with a Little Free Library located at the Center. The plan also involves the sponsoring service club holding periodic “book sales” at the Center with books supplied by local libraries designed to help promote the Little Library. Books would be sold for a nominal amount. The East Liverpool Carnegie Library has in the past donated children’s books to help supply the Center’s library, located in the Jay Room and sponsored by the William L. Miller family.

For adults, the Center has a private library collection donated, along with two bookcases which reside in the reading and video viewing area of the Wilma Fletcher Room. A player piano donated by Jean and Marion Perkins is also located there. Hundreds of publications on diverse subjects including some history of the area are in the library. Also included is a complete collection of the monthly National Geographic magazines from the early 1970s to present; a set of pictorial books of the World’s Art Museums; and a complete collection of event programs from the East Liverpool Pottery Festivals from 1969 to 1993.

The Center also has an extensive video library primarily from donated CDs, DVDs and a few VHS videos. There are VHS video players available at the Center. The movie matinees draw on this library for weekend showings. Visitors are welcome to borrow from the library for individual viewing in the Center. Also archived Legacy and Legends Lectures videos may be borrowed for showing there.