The Magic of Libraries

10 January 2012

Have you ever wandered into a library and wondered at the sheer magic of it all? The fact that it exists, and that it exists with one purpose in mind: to share the opportunity of reading and of learning with anyone, and everyone, of any and every age, race, class, and gender. At times, I leave the library with a stack of books and think to myself, "Did that really just happen?" A small, irrational part of me is worried that one day I will meet my quota, that the kindly librarians with glasses perched at the ends of their noses will tut-tut at me and say, very quietly, and though it is not the worst news in the world, that I can no longer take books out.

Because really, it's all too good to be true. And while I recognize that the library is not, in fact, free, that it is supported by our tax dollars and by donations and by library sales, it is, in fact, providing everyone in its vicinity with the opportunity to learn and to grow--and to read.

I'm not out to start a political diatribe, really, I'm not. I don't consider myself a particularly political person. But I do consider myself a fan of libraries, and of the opportunities they afford, and it is painful to watch them suffer, and to hurt, and to lose their financing, and to think that others cannot see how detrimental this is for our communities. Dickens himself, the great mastermind of fiction and advocate for justice, argued that the more a man learns,
"the better, gentler, kind man he must become. When he knows how much great minds have suffered for the truth in every age and time... he will become more tolerant of other men's beliefs in all matters, and will incline more leniently to their sentiments when they chance to differ from his own." (Dickens, as quoted in The Man Who Invented Christmas, by Les Standiford)
Is it true? Perhaps. Perhaps it is an overstatement. Perhaps an exaggeration. But does reading open one's mind to new things, new ideas? Of course. And do libraries allow those who could not otherwise afford books an opportunity to read? Of course. Now, if only that were enough.

4 comments:

  1. Our county library has a good size parking lot. It is always full. It makes my heart sing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  2. You're so right. It's ironic, too, that libraries suffer so much during times of economic hardship because that's when they're needed the most. Some days I find myself spending as much time helping people with their resume or an online application as I do helping people look for a book. And that computer assistance is the same price as the books: free.

    I believe, though, (and not just because I have to), that there are enough champions of libraries out there to keep them alive.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for stopping by!