In Awe of Libraries

In search of material on obsessive-compulsive disorder, death and grieving, and Leonardo da Vinci– all potential story fodder– I made a trip to my local library.

There, clutching a scrap of paper with a few call numbers I’d penciled down on it as I traced the books to which they belonged, I stopped amongst the shelves and had a series of revelations:

Look how easy this is.

Look how much information is piled neatly before me.

I forgot my list and wandered among the shelves, inspecting spines.

Textbooks. Sciences. Languages. Cooking. Artists. History. Politics. Poetry. Foreign countries and customs. Gardening. Biographies. Flora and fauna. Pets. Nutrition. Medicine. Physical health. Mental illness. Memoirs, maps, records, scores.

Volumes upon volumes– categorized. Cataloged.

And all utterly at my disposal.

I can’t tell you exactly what order these thoughts occurred in– maybe it was all at once, maybe it was a gradual dawning. But as I wound between the rows, marveling, the collection reminded me:

  1. The world is a vast and incredible place full of fascinating things.
  2. I could read forever and not know 1% of everything there was to know.
  3. I could pick up a different book by a different author on a different topic (even if it wasn’t an original topic, every person’s experience is unique) and never, ever be bored.

How boundlessly amazing are libraries? They’re not just posterity, records, and places of entertainment– they’re community hubs, endless doors to endless places, cornerstones of education accessible to everyone. FOR FREE.

Anyone can walk into a library and walk out with something that will change their life.

That is all.

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14 thoughts on “In Awe of Libraries

  1. “I could read forever and not know 1% of everything there was to know.”

    True, both exciting and sad at the same time, actually. It’s like.. knowledge is a giant ocean, and there we are right in front of it, with a thirst that can never be quenched. We take sip by sip, wanting to absorb it all, but the ocean is ever-expanding, there’s no end to it.

    I will never finish my reading list—even after endless cycles of rebirths (I’m Buddhist). But still, why do we do it, I wonder? I think the blessing—or curse, depends on how you look at it—of being a writer is this desire to pour something into that boundless ocean, not just to drink from it. Love love love it.

    Simple, yet inspiring post. Thanks. 🙂

    • Isn’t that just utterly flabbergasting? It’s an inspiring thought, too, to think that so many before us have conquered the blank page and made something from nothing…

      As to what drives each person– well, a library just opens up a thousand gates, doesn’t it?

  2. First of all, that picture is amazing, and look at the POSTER! And I agree, I get lost looking at titles even now and a used book store? Forget it 🙂

    • I hope, even with the integration of eReaders and more resource-economic changes, these sacred places will exist for as long as the earth! Thanks for your comment 🙂

      • I agree. Two weeks ago, I was in one of my favorite book stores in the world–which also has some used books–and I also love the smell. (My seven-year-old loves real books, so we can hope.)

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