Libraries

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Original Photo by portocala on Morguefile.com

Perhaps I should begin this post with “back in my day…” Reflections by the elderly–or even the middle aged–are often suspect as they are colored by years of forgetfulness as well as a sometimes rose-tinted view. However, there may be something to appreciate in these remembrances, no matter how rosy.

Picture, if you will, a time before the internet. There were no video games or e-readers, just books and television. On a hot summer’s day, the library was a welcome respite from the boring re-runs being shown on the few television channels available. It was a place for escape and hidden enjoyment. 

My grandparents would often take us to the local library for an hour or two. My brother, four years older than I, was tasked to supervise me. We would walk quietly through the stacks, fearful of being shushed by the librarian. With no library card, we would find a magazine or short book and begin reading.

Those cool, calm moments among the library books were among the best out of our summers. The library was the place of grownups, and we had been allowed into that sanctuary. It was a place of knowledge, a place to be respected. This was sort of a rite of passage in some respects as we had been trusted to enter this place with only ourselves for supervision.

Now, knowledge and entertainment are much easier to obtain. The seeking out of enlightenment–or even something to read–has become instantaneous. This has taken the magic out of libraries and lessened the “thrill of the hunt” for a bit of information. Perhaps this is something to be cheered, but also mourned in its own way. 

Every time I hop on the internet, I think of how far we’ve come and am grateful for the ease of gaining information. However, I do miss those quiet moments with my brother among all those books.

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