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:
- The world is a vast and incredible place full of fascinating things.
- I could read forever and not know 1% of everything there was to know.
- 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.