The Great Farr Naming Contest: Part 3
September 15, 2022
With Farr Regional Library’s 20th Anniversary coming up, we’ve been looking through old files, documents, and photos, including entries into a “Name the Library” contest, which tell the story of how Farr Regional Library got its name.
Today we’re highlighting a set of entries that fall into the patriotic category.
When we first started looking through all the entries, it was striking how many suggested names like Independence Library, United Library, and other very patriotic names.
However, once we realized the contest opened in October 2001, just shy of a month after the events of 9/11, it started to make sense.
For those of you too young to remember, fall 2001 was a strange time to be an American.
There was a resurgence of…I want to call it “patriotism,” but I think that word has changed over the last couple decades.
Maybe the best way to describe it is to tell you this:
I was a senior in high school. We were about 2 years and change out from the Columbine tragedy, which I watched live in history class. My school years were…kind of a gauntlet.
Most of the teachers didn’t know what to do with 9/11.
My AP English teacher, Mr. Johnston, was the only one who talked to us about it.
He sat on the table at the front of the class, and he ate candy. He said that Good N’ Plenty was his comfort food, so after he got his fill of watching the planes hit the towers, just about the only thing you’d find on TV or radio for a while, he walked to the store and bought some Good N’ Plenty.
I don’t remember what else he said, not exactly, but he admitted to us that it was a scary thing, that it’s normal to feel a lot.
A lot of us were confused, scared, angry. A lot of us didn’t know what to do with those feelings. But we knew we couldn’t just turn away from what happened.
And I think there was a strong feeling that we needed to rely on each other. Make each other better. I help you out today, you help me out tomorrow, and we’ll make it a couple days more together.
I think, for a lot of us, it was the first time we felt like The United States was an underdog, and we felt up to the challenge of changing that.
All the events put us to the test, all the reactions to the events tested us, and I wanted to be up to those challenges.
I wanted to help. That’s all. I couldn’t unwind what happened, but maybe I could help the future be better.
That’s the best way I can describe the patriotic feelings I had at the time: I wanted to help. I wanted to make the future better.
I’d ask everyone to read these name suggestions with that context, with that spirit in mind. You might have very strong feelings about “patriotism,” and that’s understandable, different people have very different relationships with The United States, the flag, the government, all of these things.
I’d just encourage you to read these suggestions as coming out of a time when “patriotism” meant a desire to help, to help each other. A need to make the future better.
“I think the name of the library should be called The Independence Library. I think that you should call it that…for the soldiers that are risking their lives for us.”
“America United Library: It should be like a memorial for the people that died.”
“Towers Library: It would be a symbol to remember all of the people who died during the event. Also, it would remind people how strong America is and that we stand united. It would remind people that even with the tragedy we continue to function and to educate our citizens.”
“Many places are named after a single person, heroes, etc. On September 11th there were so many heroes in all walks of life, history, and so on. Much history was made that day at the expense of many innocent lives and heroes. I would submit that we consider the name The Nine-Eleven Library in memorializing those who were lost on a day that we must heal from, but never forget.”
“Freedom Library: With the population becoming more diverse and with the tragedy occurring on September 11th, let your differences be celebrated and accepted more and let freedom ring with a new library to study at and learn about ourselves and others.”
“I think it should be the Justice Library because we want justice, and justice means fair treatment. I also want the library to be that name because we want to keep justice in Greeley.”