An Ode to Public Libraries
If I could be granted a few wishes, here would be one: all public libraries and bus stops would look and feel like small palaces. When you walked up to a bus stop or into a library, my wish is that you would feel like your attendance was the best possible decision you could have made. You would feel like the valued member and co-owner of a community treasure that you truly are.
Librarians and bus drivers, along with teachers and nurses, would be among the most well-supported professions in society. This would be my wish.
A library is a transportational, transformational arena powered by the imagination. I remember growing up when we would travel to the library; I could choose my very own books to check out and take home. Learning to read not only meant that I could read the library books to myself and make up what the characters’ voices sounded like in my head, but also that I could explore the card catalogs—yes, physical cards—to find my next adventure. The card catalog smelled like a wizard’s desk, or maybe an elf’s cobbling shop. Each card flip opened a new portal.
In third grade, our school librarian, the wondrous Mrs. Nutt, ushered me to what would be my first introduction to the works of Ursula K. Le Guin, though I didn’t know it at the time (more on that soon).
While preparing to publish my book, “How to Move by Bike,” I realized I could send a copy for inclusion into the Library of Congress for the bargain price of an ISBN number and postage paid. But even that giddy realization couldn’t compare to the moment when I heard that my own Multnomah County Library wanted to include a copy or two in their stacks. It’s possible this was my face upon hearing the news:
Say, did you know that the Library of Congress has a pneumatic tube system? Related, that the New York Public Library is one of the few places in Manhattan that still has a pneumatic tube system?
I didn’t think that libraries could get cooler than pneumatic tube systems or children’s story hour or basic ESL classes, and then my friend Brad introduced me to Libby, an app created by Overdrive. I’ve (mostly) given over using online dating sites this week, because finding a new great audiobook is a lifelong love affair, guaranteed.
What I learned at life today: Just when I thought libraries couldn’t get more awesome, along came Libby.
Featured image credit: David Iliff