As I type these words, I understand that the staff of the El Progreso Memorial Library in Uvalde are holding their regularly scheduled storytime. A safe space for children and families. That shouldn’t be difficult. Though today it seems remote, it is needed more than ever.
The unbearable loss of all those precious lives in Uvalde yesterday reminds me of the incredible responsibility we have for one another – to protect each other and nurture our sense of community and safety. We each have a duty to live respecting the life and rights of others; and we have a duty to shape a society that affirms this duty by creating a culture that values all our fellow citizens, calls out actions and behaviors that work against that value, and provides the tools and resources to help people participate holistically and productively within our society.
And here is where libraries have a special role. As organic bodies borne out of and for a community, libraries are a place of refuge, learning, and healing. They are places to find community and hope. I am not one bit surprised at the commitment and dedication of the staff of the El Progreso Memorial Library.
I cannot imagine the grief of our colleagues in Uvalde. Staff made the difficult choice to stay open today because they wanted to offer the community, parents, and children – children especially – a sense of normalcy. They wanted parents to know there was an option for them today, as school has been concluded for the rest of the year.
Mendell Morgan, the library director in Uvalde, told me that even if folks are unable to get to the library, staff wanted the community to know they were there for them, now and always. Some structures cannot be torn down by even the most heinous acts.
I realize that the community and our colleagues there are still in shock. These are the early days of what will be a lifelong burden. They will need support and kindness, as well as respect for what they are experiencing. I know all of my colleagues throughout the state join me in extending our bone-deep condolences to all of the people of Uvalde. We are all the less for this inexplicable loss of children and educators.
The staff of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission extend our hearts to the people of Uvalde.