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Editorial: Applause / A Pause

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a new monthly feature of our Columns & Commentary page,

in which we either applaud a person, group or event for something positive that we feel is worthy of a little credit (Applause), and/or address something that gives us pause; something that we feel deserves to be addressed in a public forum like the newspaper (A Pause). Our hope is to generate some honest conversations within the communities we serve, giving credit where credit is due, and calling out those things that just don't seem quite right. We welcome rebuttals and feedback. Applause / A Pause expresses the collective opinions of the East Otter Tail Focus editorial staff. It will be published in the first issue of every month.

APPLAUSE to everyone who has put so much work into the new Tuffy Stadium.

From day one, this project has been a perfect example of the power of community and a "can-do" attitude.

It was only seven months ago when the news broke that the beloved old grandstands would be demolished.

That's all the time it took for the community of Perham to draft up a design for a new stadium, take down the old one, put up a new one, and raise the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed to do it.

For a project of this scale, completion within such a tight time frame is nearly unheard of.

But not here in Perham, where scores of volunteers offered their time, talents and elbow grease to get the job done in time for the city's traditional July 4 game and fireworks.

People from all corners of the community came out in support of the project. Funds flowed in, and many businesses donated whatever materials and services they could. Community groups, alongside of individual baseball fans and others who genuinely care about the grandstands, showed up on work days with their sleeves rolled up, raring to go.

A list of all those who played a role would be far too long to publish here. But you know who you are.

Job well done.

A PAUSE to the Perham-Dent School District's decision to store away most of the high school library's books.

Maybe it's just a sign of the times - the new replacing the old. High school leaders say kids today don't check out many books anyway, that everything is moving to a digital platform. And with the school introducing iPads for all students next fall, making the media center more iPad-friendly makes sense.

There are a whole host of other rational reasons behind the district's decision. Good reasons, even. (See the full story on the front page).

Regardless, we think it's a crying shame. If kids can't be around books in their own school library, where can they?

True, a lot of kids today find their reading and research materials online, using tools that are free and easy to use. Many of us adults do the same thing. There's nothing wrong with that.

But there is something wrong with a school library that has hardly any books in it.

If any institution (other than a public library) ought to fight for the preservation of books, it's a school. If our kids are to understand the value of books, then our schools need to show them that books are to be valued.

If kids aren't browsing the shelves like they used to, the solution isn't to get rid of the shelves, it's to emphasize the value in having them there.

No matter how much we love our Kindles and iPads, nothing compares to walking into a library and simply being among books. Even most non-book-lovers recognize the unique distinction that books add to a room - the air of adventure; the suggestion of knowledge.

But this is not all about nostalgia: any students planning to attend college will need to know how to find a book the 'old-fashioned way' - at the library, offline. College students who don't know what it means to search through the "stacks" or who have no idea how to check out older materials not found online will be at a disadvantage.

Yes, schools need to shift their attitudes with every new generation in order to successfully reach students, but there are still many things that students need to learn from the generations before them. And, in our view, how to appreciate a good old-fashioned paper book is one of them.