Where is the best place to find new reading material? The library of course. Even now I consider it the best place to look for new books, or old books, or any sort of reference. Despite the internet’s attempts at pushing libraries out of existence, they are still here. I thank God for that.
The internet may call itself the king of information, but is it really? What I believe the internet should be called is the king of sound bites. It gives you little tidbits of information, not the entire story. Nor does it tell you if there are other options. What you get to see is what the search engine wants you to see, nothing more, nothing less.
Growing up I was most thankful for the Brunswick County Library in Brunswick, MD, and the Loudoun County Book Mobile. I tell you, these two helped form me into who I am today. The funny thing is, if I tried to do what I did as a kid, I would be banned. First off, we didn’t live in Brunswick County. Hell, we didn’t even live in Maryland. We lived across the Potomac on the Virginia side. And still, the librarians at the Brunswick County Library allowed us to get a library card and to check out books. By the bag full.
I mean we literally filled up brown paper grocery bags full of books and records and took them home. Try doing that today. It was a godsend. It was also the beginning of my love affair with the classics since the library carried plenty of those. Modern books (for the sixties anyways) weren’t really popular on the library bookshelves. However, they had “The Three Musketeers” and “Le Morte d’Arthur” and several of the banned books of the time. “Huckleberry Finn” is one of my all time favorite banned books.
I didn’t possess what one might call positive role models like most in that turbulent time. I gathered my role models from books. Books I took out from the library. If I could name one place that made a difference in my life it would be the Brunswick County Library.
I find myself drawn to libraries. I can sit in them for days. I have been to quite a few of the biggies in this country as well as some very interesting private ones. Books are a blessing and public libraries are the ones who dispense such blessings.
It troubles my heart when I step into a library and there is a line for the computers, but no one is standing at the checkout line for the books. I know books seem old fashioned in the age of digital awareness but hold one in your hands and take it in. It is time travel in the palm of your hands. Flip a book one way and you are traveling forward in time. At least for the characters involved. Flip it the other way and you get to travel all the way back to the beginning. As close to time travel as I will ever come. I’ll take it.
One of those interesting library activities my wife and I observed was in Monument Circle in Indianapolis. In the circle were boxes of books inside glass cases where you could return one book and check out another. All on the honor system. Similar to the sharing libraries. How cool is that?
I have seen other such ideas as people set up book boxes for trades. Trade one of yours for one of theirs.
One of those things which saddened me was the end of the book mobiles in rural areas of the country. I supposedly lived in town, such as it was, in my hometown. Which meant I lived by the one and only paved road. I still had a rural address. Rural Route 2 – Box 2F.
Once, every two weeks in the summer, the book mobile would make its way along the school’s bus route and stop at each house to allow people to check out the books they had inside. True, by the internet’s standard of quantity, it was minuscule. In the eyes of a young boy, it was heaven on earth. I read my first Louis L’Amour book off the book mobile.
If I had to choose between supporting a football program and a library, I would choose a library every time.
I’m Ross, the Editor-in-Chief at The Pyrateheart Press and I’m out.