Rachel Reynolds Luster and the Myrtle Public Library on National Public Radio

photo2_custom-3aaec0325056b184cde665b855e8e887d46cbfe0-s40-c85NPR’s Morning Edition recently featured a story about the Myrtle, Missouri Public Library and its new librarian Rachel Reynolds Luster. Longtime readers of Art of the Rural may be familiar with her work — Rachel is a musician, folklorist, heritage studies scholar, and engaged member of her local co-op and artisan center. In addition to all of this, we are proud that Rachel is also the Founding Project Steward for Art of the Rural.

In “Turning a Page Inside a Rural One-Room Library,” Jennifer Davidson spends time with Rachel and some of the library’s patrons, while also considering the integral place of the public library within the fabric of rural communities:

While the Myrtle library receives taxpayer money, it gets only $200 a month for books and supplies. So Luster has used social media to garner donations from people around the state. She’s already secured about 1,000 new books.

She’s one of thousands of rural librarians trying to bring a sense of community, learning and connectedness to their isolated areas. The Institute of Museum and Library Services estimates that nearly half of America’s public libraries are rural, and many of those are staffed by only one or two people.

“Often, the library is the only place in a small community that people can go to access technology, to fill out job applications, to continue their learning,” says Tena Hanson of the Association for Rural and Small Libraries.

She says libraries in remote places are lifelines for rural communities because the Internet doesn’t always reach towns with rugged terrain.

In the weeks ahead, Art of the Rural will share more news from the Myrtle Public Library and follow up with Rachel on how the attention from the NPR piece, and the subsequent donations of books from around the country, has contributed to the forward progress of her work.

Should folks be interested in learning more about the library, or contacting its librarian, please visit the Friends of the Myrtle Library Facebook page.

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