Since I was a child, I’ve loved libraries.
Few places feel like home to me in the way that rooms brimming with books do. Havens for introverts, knowledge lovers and story seekers, the library has taught me some unexpected life lessons.
In a library, it’s easy to believe that there’s always enough to go around—enough stories, enough time, enough love. No matter how tight my budget is, I can walk into a library and know there is something there for me.
Being in a library reminds me that the best things in life are free—love, nature and stories—so long as we mind our due date.
A library schools us in miracles. There’s a place you can go where everything is on offer, where you can run your fingers along the stitched spines of books until you find one that heats your fingertips, that declares itself to you. It will take you to ancient Egypt; it will teach you about witches or orchids or constellations. It will connect you to the heart and mind of someone you will never meet, but quickly come to feel you know well.
A library will teach you that size doesn’t matter. The shortest sprinkle of words can crack your heart wide open. And the thickest book on the shelf can leave you strung out for weeks, story-sick and dazed, until you finally skim your eyes over those last lingering words and you’re left feeling bereft.
In a library, we learn the sweet value of stillness, of silence. Like a scientist studying the beginning of the world, you’ll learn that quiet spaces, when tended to with patience, might just burst into bright being.
Going to the library offers us practice in letting go. You will learn it’s possible to hold something for a short time, to let it crawl into your heart and change you, and then to surrender it to the next hungry soul.
We will always need books. Even someday in a sharp, silver world where people soak up books through a chip in their fingertips, we will still need a place to go where stories can be shared. We will always need a place that smells of words stamped across paper, words that say this is what it feels like, to be here now, and now, and now.
Author: Lynn Shattuck
Editor: Catherine Monkman