Our library was featured yesterday on the front cover of the newspaper. Instead of praising it for its purpose, the article covered the demands by patrons, including free Internet use. The problem is budget cuts and a cutback in library hours. This is not just for our local area, but I'm guessing across the country. I remember working at the public library in the city where I went to college. They experienced budget cuts, hiring freezes and less hours--and this was in 2004. Now, it's catching up to Texas public libraries. We have literally had patrons yell at us for the cutback in library hours and the wait time to get on a computer. Fortunately, we recently added 20 more computers to help ease the demand and needs. Many who don't have computers or Internet access at home (Gera and I just got our first home computer last week--we have google in our house---finally---feels weird), need the library services to do their resumes and even apply for jobs online. Of course, we get the scum, the sticky looking people (females too), who abuse the Internet. I've only worked at two public libraries (my fun job), but I see that no matter the state, north or south, libraries attract the strangest individuals. You see some of every...body.
The beautiful turn, however, is in the luxury and reason behind a library, sheer learning. Free information. Other great passages from The Library at Night.
And the mental atmosphere we create in the act of reading, the imaginary space we construct when we lose ourselves in the pages of a book, is confirmed or refuted by the physical space of the library, and is affected by the distance of the shelves, the crowding or paucity of books, by qualities of scent and touch and by the varying degrees of light and shade. 'Every librarian is, to a certain point, an architect.'
The room in which writers (that subspecies of readers) surround themselves with the materials they need for their work acquire an animal quality, like that of a den or a nest, holding the shape of their bodies and offering a container to their thoughts. Here the writer can make his own bed among the books, be as monogamous or polygamous a reader as he wishes, choose an approved classic or an ignored newcomer, leave arguments unfinished, start on any page opened by chance, spend the night reading out loud so as to hear his own voice read back to him, in Virgil's famous words, under 'the friendly silence of the soundless moon.' Boy, does this hit home...but only when I have the time to invest in my writing.
And not only this, but there are the unique exhibits that happen in a library. This week, my library put together a sweet exhibit of a local woman and the many hats she wore. I didn't have time this past Sunday to jot down her history, but I will try to add this into the post after tomorrow night at work.
A library is an ever-growing entity; it multiplies seemingly unaided, it reproduces itself by purchase, theft, borrowings, gifts, by suggesting gaps through association, by demanding completion of sorts. Whether in Alexandria, Baghdad or Rome, this expanding mass of words eventually requires systems of classification that allow it space to grow, movable fences that save it from being restricted by the limits of the alphabet or rendered useless by the sheer quantity of items it might hold under a categorical label.
And finally, I leave you with this wowing post by mousemedicine, kimy at the library. This post was so amazing all I could comment was whoa!