As a young person, I’d walk to the library at least once a week, independently.
This was a big deal since I have some mobility issues, so leaving the house on my own was generally pretty unheard of. Our town was small enough though, that everyone knew whose kid I was, and my unique gait made me pretty unmistakable if my identity wasn’t completely obvious at first.
I would use the public wifi to go on teenmatchmaker.com (Sorry, mom, who is finding this out about 20 ish years later via an internet blog post) and when the ticker-timer in the top left corner of the computer screen had wound down, I’d meander between the bookshelves and spin the displays, pulled in by the bright colors and made to stay by gripping back-of-the-book plot rundowns. I would peruse the “for sale” books, and chat with fellow community members, and librarians.
Fast forward 20 years and not much has changed, really.
Now, I have the pleasure of working with Elephant Journal, as an Academy Coordinator, occasional Editor, and Reader Support champion. This is the first time I’ve ever worked remotely. So, where did I choose as my “home base”?
You got it. The public library. I’m amazed every single day, here.
The library opens at 9 a.m. sharp, and there’s consistently a queue built up waiting outside the doors as if some kind of rock concert were about to begin. That’s heartening. Don’t try and tell me libraries are dead, people!
Each morning, I delight in my iced cranberry tea and look forward to chatting with Christina, the head barista. (Yeah, our library has a locally-sourced cafe, and it’s amazing.) I giggle with glee when one of the staff calls me by name. (Even though I’m in a “big city” now, I’m still a small town girl when it counts.) I smile when Mike the security guy opens the clangy metal partition between the cafe and the rest of the library after he’s cleared the queue at the main doors. (He grins sometimes, as I wait patiently. I know I could slip by it, but what can I say, I’m a rule follower.) I smile when I realize that I recognize the “regulars”, which probably means that I am one myself. I revel in the knowledge that here, communities gather. This hub for learning, study, expansion, growth, belonging, and community is free—and open to all.
I find myself wondering how many words exist in this building, and what would happen if someone were to sit down and count them all. The number would be forever changing, as books were borrowed, and returned. I find myself curious about the number of connections that have been made, and lives that have been changed, because of public libraries.
If you’ve got a library near you, I’d encourage you to go, and soon.
In doing so, I implore you to:
>> Forget that time exists, for a while.
Set an alarm (on vibrate, perhaps) if you need to—but, please, meander.
>> Celebrate diversity.
>> Learn something new.
>> Smile at a stranger.
>> Appreciate the place where you live and the people who make it unique, and beautiful.Browse Front PageShare Your Idea
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