As the temperatures reached into the upper 80s this afternoon, we saw the universal library sign (symbol of a person reading a book) on the side of the road. We followed the sign into the small town of Brownstown, Illinois (population 750), where we found the Brownstown Branch of the St. Elmo Library District. The Branch Library had obviously served as a bank in the past since the open vault (now used as a reading area for children) was the first thing we saw when we entered. We immediately felt great relief from the heat and drank heavily from the water cooler by the entrance.
Inside we met Karen Wegscheid She is a librarian and firefighter.
Think that’s great employment combination?
Well, the other librarian is also the MAYOR.
Karen answered a lot of our questions about library service for non-residents. She has seen other bicycle tourists at the main library in St. Elmo, mainly using the computers. As with many small towns, the library is the only place with free wifi for the traveler. After riding 60 miles, these two librarians very much appreciated the water, toilet, air-conditioning, comfy chairs, and great conversation. We learned a lot about Brownstown and the surrounding districts—much more than if we had just continued riding without stopping. The bicycle tour is about seeing the United States but also talking with people along the way, eating the food, marveling at the changing landscapes, and staying aware of the changes in the weather.
Thanks Karen! It was lovely meeting you.