I Love Library

6 Jul

Fabric horns. Memories are made of this/these.

When I was a kid we’d often spend weekday evenings in the Bismarck Public Library. I remember there being a painting on the wall of a woman with horns but they were unthreatening fabric horns. At the time it didn’t make sense and, let’s be honest, it still doesn’t but at least now I understand what I was looking at. Check out this linkto see dystopos explanation of Van Eyck’s painting. Or don’t. Still a free country.

Anyway, those trips to the library were something I really looked forward to. My sister and I would carefully select items keeping our limit in mind and also keeping that of our father’s in mind as he could often be talked into loaning us room on his card. Mom was a totally different story.

At the end of her life Mom’s frequency at the library stacks had made her a minor celebrity with the librarians. She had her own shelf in the reserve stacks and a few of these book saints attended her funeral. Mom kept long, intimidating lists of books she wanted to read and even longer lists of books she had read. My main truth as a kid was that Dad had done everything and Mom had read about it.

These last few months I have rediscovered the library. At times I feel like an untrustworthy research assistant for some absent-minded professor. I’m using our trip as an excuse to learn. Now that I’m not getting a grade on it I’m fully engaged. I get the same thrill out of using my library card as I do going through the checkout at Target except my shopper’s remorse is far less expensive.

Things have changed. Today, for instance, I’m using the internet at the library for the first time. To my right is a woman researching job openings and to my left is a man learning Tagalog (and bad metal, apparently). And searching for a book on the library’s site not only finds what I’m looking for but other and better options. Poking through the stacks also expands my choices and it feels like a shame to leave without scanning a barcode… after all, books need love, too.

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