Editorial: We believe in libraries


On Sunday, West Tisbury library officials, friends and neighbors honored David and Rosalee McCullough. The occasion was the dedication in their honor of the community program room in the newly renovated and enlarged West Tisbury public library, a $6 million project that pretty much went off without a papercut.

It was a fitting tribute to a couple — David McCullough never fails to credit his wife Rosalee for his success — that have contributed much to our Island and the nation through the written and spoken word.

A two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize in literature, Mr. McCullough has described the trials and tribulations of the men and women who shaped our country, and the events that shaped them, with a perspective that is accessible to the reader, and the familiarity of an author writing about respected friends.

His literary accomplishments have earned him many honors and generated considerable pride among the residents of West Tisbury, his home for 35 years. In ceremonies at the White House on December 15, 2006, President George W. Bush bestowed the 2006 Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civil award, on David McCullough.

“This chronicler of other times is one of the eminent Americans of our time. The nation owes a debt of gratitude to a fine author and a fine man,” said the President.

Island organizations and fundraisers have long known that any event that featured David McCullough guarantees a full house. Over the years, he has lent his power to draw a crowd to benefit many Island institutions. He has also been generous of his time in more intimate settings.

In a front page story in today’s Community section, Tony Omer reports that the McCulloughs were early donors to the library project, and in his role as honorary chairman of the foundation, Mr. McCullough drummed up support and funds.

As courtly in manner and personable when met on a street in Vineyard Haven as he is on stage, David McCullough reminds us of what it is to be a man of true accomplishment in an era of cheap Youtube celebrity.

He is also someone who commands our attention when he speaks. “I am a library devotee,” Mr. McCullough told the assembled well-wishers on Sunday. “I believe in them.”

It would be difficult to be a visitor or resident of Martha’s Vineyard and not be a believer. Our town libraries, each with a distinct personality, offer much and continue to offer more. Access to high-speed Internet service has created an electronic library shelf filled with authors from all corners of the world, where books, magazines, and videos are available at the click of a mouse.

During the day and evening, Island libraries are a hub of year-round community activity with programs for all ages. There are author talks, lectures, and discussions.

For those who are not believers, a visit to an Island library is recommended.