Sunday, September 12, 2010

Library Love

I have something on my mind. Been on my mind for a while now. You can read the paragraphs I copied from the History Magazine about libraries while I locate my soapbox.

"THE COLLECTION OF written knowledge in some sort of repository is a practice as old as civilization itself. About 30,000 clay tablets found in ancient Mesopotamia date back more than 5,000 years. Archaelogists have uncovered papyrus scrolls from 1300-1200bc in the ancient Egyptian cities of Amarna and Thebes and thousands of clay tablets in the palace of King Sennacherib, Assyrian ruler from 704-681bc, at Nineveh, his capital city. 

The name for the repository eventually became the library. Whether private or public, the library has been founded, built, destroyed and rebuilt. The library, often championed, has been a survivor throughout its long history and serves as a testament to the thirst for knowledge."

OK. I'm back with the soapbox.

Personal Story #1. When I was a kid, I went to my library (at least) once a week. One week, I checked out Little House in the Big Woods. When I went the following week (or was it the next day?) to return it, I asked the librarian if there were any other books "just like this one?" She rose with a smile and led me to the stacks. She pointed out A WHOLE ROW of Laura Ingall's adventures. A few years ago, while working in the Childrens Department at Abington Free Library, I was able to return that favor to a child, looking - just as I had been - for another book "just like this."
Abington Free Library's Children's Dept Mural
painted each year by the high school art students
for the library's Summer Reading Program
I love books: their heft, the pages, the smell, the wealth of information stored inside. The riches that innocently sit inside the walls of Abington Library is astonishing. I can find most anything there. And if I'm looking for something, say for instance, architecture that I can only describe in terms like: "It's, like, whimsical, like those gazebos, ya' know?" The librarian behind the desk, without judgement, searches through her own knowledge ("Is it a folly you are thinking of?" "YES!") and uses tools, like the computer, to find that there is a book available on just that kind of architecture called Picturesque and, yes, the book has pictures in it. And yes, she can order it for me and it'll come to me, here, at my local library.

Libraries are much more than that, though. The Friends of the Library fund a lot of the programs that ranges from my own Teen Journaling classes to the Socrates Club. For free. Knowledge is free at libraries, it runs rampant as if there is just so much of it that they can give it away for free and never run out. They build community in ways that are large such as the WWII meetings with speakers to tiny, serendipitous meetings. One night I was helping a mom looking for information on autism. As I was looking it up, another woman came to the desk and was waiting for me to help her. These two struck up a conversation and by the time I'd retrieved a couple of books on autism, they had bonded over their autistic children. They were sharing information and resources. Each helping the other in ways that I wouldn't have been able to.
Incoming "hold" books being sorted by Susan in Technical Services
And then there is the librarians' sense of humor and fun.Personal Story #2. One time (really only one time!) I was late returning my library books. I apologized and gave the librarian my 5 cent overdue. I felt so bad that I told her I had been sick. She looked at me and said "Ahhh, that's a shame ... was it Spring Fever?" Of course, that seemed like a good name to me so I agreed that this was exactly the illness that had befallen me.
Laurel, Jackie and Marla processing the held books at circulation .
Anne or Laurel shelve the held books - ready to be picked up by AFL's patrons
So here's what I've got to say. Support 'em. Throw a couple of extra bucks into the "donations" jar. Overpay for a book from the used book sales. Are you able to contribute a couple, few hours a week to be trained as a volunteer? Do you have a teenager who could volunteer? Here's a link for some ways to contribute at Abington Free Library. Check out opportunities at your local library. Write your congressman. Let's stand up and shout! WE WANT OUR LIBRARIES INTACT" and then, do a little something to help.

Here's a little slideshow. (Can you tell I'm a product of the 60's?)


cathy slobodzian kress said...

Libraries = best example ever of your tax dollars at work.
(Full disclosure: I work at Roslyn Library, but I've been a library lover ever since I checked out my first book: A Tree is Nice by Janice Udry.)

Jeannie said...

Thank you!!! I remember getting huge stacks of books every two weeks. Dad would drop me off while he ran errands. I was in heaven - the smell, the books, the quiet. I still go every week and though my tastes have changed from the Little House days, I am still transported. I pass on my "new" magazines, DVDs, & Cds once I am done. The Friends support so many wonderful programs and I love finding a new "treasure" there. They charge so little that throwing some extra $$$ in the donation jar is easy. Thanks Diana!

*jean* said...

o i am so glad i'm not the only one! it's all i could do to not jump up and down in the foyer of our new library! it has been closed for a year and it is fantastic!! i'm the only one i know who was over the top excited about it's re-opening...pity, really, i don't know more folks who love their library!!! we have the greatest program can rent the books for .25 a day if you don't want to wait...LOVE the library!! thanks for sharing!!!

Janet Ghio said...

I love the library!! It boggles my mind that some people don't go to the library or take their children! Best place in the world!! I've had a library card since I was seven years old. I would never be without a stack of books to read--real books! not ones on the computer. Thanks for your post!

Magpie's Mumblings said...

I too love the library and always have (and will). Every time I buy a book that I think one of the libraries in our system can use, I donate it. We have a Friends group too and all the other books get donated to them for their fundraisers. I will *never* be one to switch to reading books on the computer or with one of those little handheld 'things'. I want the feel of the paper, the rustle as you turn the page and the smell and feel of an actual book in my hands. Great post!

elle said...

Absolutely! Earliest memory is my Dad taking me with him to the library! I'm older than you. it was Nancy Drew and Cherry Ames for me! Three cheers for real, live, hold in your hands BOOKS!

Kat Kenney said...

Thanks for pointing out one of our most valuable resources. Here's to books, libraries and the people who make them possible!

Cassie Shella said...

Libraries are vital to any community. Your post was uplifting - and I LOVED the Little House books growing up. I'm now reading them with my two young daughters. Have a Blessed week

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this link, but unfortunately it seems to be offline... Does anybody have a mirror or another source? Please answer to my post if you do!

I would appreciate if a staff member here at could post it.


Kimmie said...

my lib doesn't charge fines! can you believe it!?! I asked the librarian about that one time and she said that they decided a long time ago not to do that because it would discourage people from the library ...... and now I am SO good about returning books on time! when there was a fine to pay - I was ALWAYS late! there must be some psychology in that :)

p.s. I found your blog through your image transfer videos on you tube - thanks for everything!!! and I see a friend *jean* is here commenting too! she knows everyone :)