Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

The Great American Library

Today there is an article in the news about a small library in Vermont that actually sits on the border and is used by both Americans and Canadians. The US government is considering changing that, as they think the unguarded entry to the US is being used by bad people.

Maybe. I don’t know. Post 9/11, the Department of Homeland Security can say or do just about anything in the name of National Security, limit or modify our consititutional rights, behave in ways contrary to everything we believe in, and no one seems to be able to stop them.

And that is not the point. The point is that at one time in our history, an industrialist, Andrew Carnegie, donated money to build libraries throughout the United States, Canada and even Scotland, over 2,000 libraries in all.

In almost every town in America, you will find a library, where you can borrow, free of charge, books on any subject.

When I was a little girl, where I lived was so safe that my mother would put me on the bus with my basket family library books and send me to the library, call the librarian to tell her I was coming, and I could spend hours there, and no-one had to worry about my safety. My Dad would pick me up on his way home from work, and I would have a basket of fresh books – the librarian would pick out books for my Mom.

One day, the desk person was sick, and the librarian let me sit at the desk, checking books ou to library patrons. I must have been six or seven years old, and could barely get on the high chair behind the library desk.

Here is what was so cool. I could read at a very early age, and my nine or ten had worked my way through most of the children’s section, and started choosing books from the adult section. The first time, the librarian called my Mom and asked if it was OK, and my Mom said “if she thinks she can read it, check it out to her.” My library card was annotated to inform all the desk people that I could read whatever I wanted, even from the adult section. Woooo Hoooooooo!

My husband has similar stories, growing up in his home town. He loved the library as I did, and one day, rode his bike to the library and then fell asleep there, hidden from view. The librarian closed the library and he woke up alone and very scared. These were pre mobil phones – I know, I know, it’s hard to believe. His family came looking for him and found his bike, called the librarian, who lived nearby, and she let him out.

We still love libraries. It’s an amazing thing, to be able to walk into a treasury of books, pick up a couple hundred dollars worth, and walk out with just your signature as pledge. The newest books on every subject are available, either in the library itself or through their inter-library loan system. Now, too, most of the libraries have a computer section, where you can check your e-mail or do research online – totally free.

Libraries are staffed mainly by females, I don’t know why, it seems to be seen as a female job. But what power these women have! They are the guardians of so much knowledge! Children and adults come to them and ask all kinds of questions, and they know where to look for the answers!

Isn’t learning how to access knowledge one of the true great secrets in life? So these librarians, the guardians of knowledge, are like Superman, holding the front lines against ignorance, promoting access to new ideas and new ways of doing things, combating the forces of darkness and superstition.

Librarians were a powerful force in my life, and in my husband’s. Has there been a powerful figure in your life who made a difference in how you saw the world, in choices you have made?

May 27, 2007 Posted by | Alaska, Biography, Books, Community, Cultural, Customer Service, Family Issues, Generational, Living Conditions, Relationships, Social Issues, Spiritual | 5 Comments