Green River Star -

By Jason Grubb
Sweetwater County Library System 

Remembering the price of freedom Saturday


Several years ago I worked for the Sheridan County Public Library in northwest Wyoming. One of my job duties at the library was to visit the Sheridan VA Medical Center each month and provide a program about the library’s online services that could be accessed from the medical center’s computer lab. This was before eBooks or streaming movie services or digital library collections, so I spent a lot of time talking about information rich databases that provided access to newspaper and magazine articles. The audience listened because they were polite, but I’m not sure how interested they were in these particular library services. Many in the audience were dealing with some serious health challenges as a consequence of serving our county. How to search for articles in all the newspapers in Montana had little use in their current situation. These veterans brought home the reality of a saying that is posted on a sign at the entrance to the Sheridan VA Medical Center: The price of freedom is visible here.

This week as we celebrate the 4th of July let us take a minute to pause and remember freedom is not free. The freedoms we enjoy are only possible through the risks and sacrifices made by those in the military. Some family barbeques this weekend will have an empty seat because some have paid the ultimate price in defense of our country. Others are left with the scars of sacrifice that make it difficult for them to enjoy life as fully as they would be able to otherwise.

Did you have the opportunity to view the Vietnam Veterans Moving Wall Memorial that was at Western Wyoming Community College last weekend? A big thanks to American Legion Post 24 and VFW Post 2321 for bringing this to our area and Western for hosting the wall. The Moving Wall is a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in Washington, D.C. and contains the 58,282 names of the American servicemen believed to have lost their lives in the Vietnam War. That is more individuals than we currently have living in all of Sweetwater County. That is the price of freedom.

One freedom that is particularly important to me is the freedom to read. Removing or limiting the access to reading materials, censoring content, labeling some books or authors “objectionable” are all attempts to diminish the free expression of ideas. The freedom to read and exchange ideas is essential to our democracy. The role of the public library is to disseminate these ideas. We do this in many different ways, but lately the focus has been on digital content that can be accessed online or from a mobile app.

Over the past year the library has added two new services for eBooks: OverDrive and Hoopla. Both of these services can be accessed from the library’s website with your library card, have mobile apps that are simple and easy to use for mobile devices such as a smartphone or tablet, and have a large selection of books for children, teens, and adults. In addition, Hoopla also provides access to streaming movies and television shows, audiobooks, songs, and now comic books.

I never read comic books growing up, but I’m familiar enough with the stories. Superman and Batman are iconic; the Flash was one of my favorites. These are all characters in DC comics whose stories became available for digital checkout last week on Hoopla. There’s a pretty nice list to choose from, so visit the library’s website and select the Hoopla link from the home page to start borrowing digital comic books from the library.

I hope everyone has a safe and fun 4th of July. Visit the library online or in person to celebrate your freedom to read and remember to thank those that have preserved that freedom.


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