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Library event draws vocal crowd for inauguration

A crowd of about 75 Ashlanders gathered at the Ashland Public Library this morning to witness the United States' 44th peaceful transfer of power. In a show of community spirit, they braved the cold and an early wake-up to see what many called most important inauguration of a generation.

Regional Library Manager Amy Blossom and her husband, Brad Galusha planned the event, which Blossom considered a no-brainer.

"A few of us started chatting, and we knew there was a lot of interest in this," said Blossom. "I asked my husband if he could do the projection and he said it was no problem. We knew that the university was doing something, so the library had to make a show."

People started to arrive at 8 a.m., and the planners quickly realized the small room was not going to be enough, so a move to the larger room was quickly undertaken. By 8:30, the event was standing-room only.

Galusha projected the live video stream of the inauguration on a screen, and hoped all would go well.

"The biggest decision right now is what coverage we are going to show," said Galusha. "We want to be neutral, but we also want the best coverage."

NBC ended up being the coverage of choice.

All was going well until the moment of inauguration, when the video stream died, and the library staff quickly found a radio so that all in attendance could hear the speech. Galusha believes that the overwhelming use of the live video was probably responsible for the technological failure.

The crowd in attendance was diverse, and in very high spirits. The loudest applause of the morning came when NBC showed the moving vans behind the White House, removing President Bush's belongings.

Applause and cheers were many throughout the ceremony. High points included Aretha Franklin singing "My Country 'Tis of Thee," Michelle Obama and her two daughters making their first appearance and, most of all, President Obama's appearance. Throughout most of the inauguration, however, the crowd was silent and intent on paying attention to the event.

Some in attendance had a direct play-by-play via text messaging to Washington, D.C. Ashland resident Betsy Gentry was in constant contact with her son, who was on the National Mall in the Capital.

"My son is there right now and he's posting the whole thing on MySpace," said Gentry. "He's telling everyone how he's on the bus, then he's on the Mall."

Ashland resident Laney Daquino was at the library because she has no television, a similar reason for many in attendance.

"I found out about this in the paper. It's great that the locals and the community are sharing this event together," said Daquino. "It was funny how technology let us down, but we pulled through, just like our country is going to pull through."

Public unity was the unofficial theme at the library.

"It's so wonderful that the people are getting together for this event this early, before the library even opened," said library employee Amy Kinard. "It really shows that people do care what happens in this country."