The votes are tallied and the results are in — the Mount Airy Public Library won the Read, Build, Play voting contest sponsored by the LEGO and the Association for Library Services to Children.
That title brings a $5,000 grant to the library to be used for the purchase of books and other equipment.
The final numbers, according to the LEGO Read, Build, Play website, showed votes for Mount Airy’s library at a whopping 100,725, more than double the tally for the Heights Community Library of Houston, which came in at 47,622. In fact, Mount Airy’s votes exceeded the combined total of Heights and the third-place library, from Longmont, Colo., with 35,504.
This is significant for a couple of reasons. First, the grant money will go a long way for the library in these tight economic times. With governments holding the line on, or even cutting, funding to the library, this no doubt will be a welcome shot in the arm. It won’t replace all the funding it has lost, but every dollar helps.
Second, this contest is indicative of how folks in Mount Airy and Surry County look out for their own. Some of you might recall a bit of brouhaha over comments about Mount Airy written by a columnist with the Houston Chronicle. He was trying to drum up some votes for the Heights library and made a few sarcastic statements about Mount Airy. At that time Mount Airy had a slight advantage in the voting.
While the Heights library is a neighborhood library, it’s still part of the city of Houston. The population there dwarfs Mount Airy’s. It dwarfs the population of all of Surry County, so the odds of Mount Airy holding on may have appeared slim to outsiders.
But residents of Mount Airy rallied to the local library’s cause. In addition to leaving a few comments online regarding the Houston Chronicle’s column, they voted at the Read, Build, Play website. They used Facebook and Twitter and face-to-face exchanges to encourage friends to vote for Mount Airy. And while the Houston library enjoyed a slight edge in the voting shortly after the Chronicle column, Mount Airy soon reclaimed the lead and pulled away.
For folks who know Mount Airy, that should be no surprise. The city does quite well in virtually any contest involving online voting — being named one of North Carolina’s favorite Main Streets is evidence of that.
But the title, or in this case the money, is only part of the story. The good folks of this community, both in Mount Airy and in all of Surry County, look out for one another. Despite overwhelming challenges, folks here keep food banks filled. They find ways to help those who are in need. Some who really don’t have anything extra to spare will still donate money, materials, or time to others they see struggling.
Extending that sort of community spirit to casting online votes, to standing up to a big-city paper that might make fun of Mount Airy, to making sure the local library comes out on top, of watching out for their own, is just another indication of why Mount Airy is such a special place.