Harold Washington Library owl, image from wikipedia.org
I have a problem with books. I cannot resist them.
The library is a refuge. Not a hangout like in college.
No, I am at peace walking through the aisles alone. Shopping titles. Dining on tables of contents. Being held rapt between stacks.
When we’ve moved to new cities, one of the first places I search out is a good public library. It’s easier to find than a good church. Quickly becomes like a second home.
(Once discovered, a good church does too.)
The huge owls perched on the acroteria of the 10-story Harold Washington Library in Printer’s Row were my guardians during our years in Chicago. Wise, familiar faces watching me arrive and depart on the train.
Now the headquarters branch of the St. Louis County Library shelters my son and I on our weekly pilgrimages.
And the books—they may be composed of dead trees, but they are alive to me.
The trend is electronic. But I like to physically hold the books in my hands. Turn the pages. Bookmark them with receipts, scraps of paper, bits of string.
The books feel earthy, grounded, solid. I breathe in deep and detect traces of turned dirt and soaked roots.
Blame my habit on my mother who introduced me to the High Point Public Library in North Carolina when I was in elementary school.
Empowered me with my own card. Let me check out books about whatever I wanted to read: dinosaurs, UFOs, Mary Quant.
image from amazon.com
I remember the illustration of the lime green extraterrestrial giving me nightmares. I recall the section dedicated to electric blue in “Color by Quant.”
Indirectly, my mom taught me if I have a question, somewhere in a book there is an answer. Or, somewhere in a book there is an admission that there is no answer. At least not one we know yet.
Few goals in parenting are measurable in the short-term if at all. Instilling a love of books, however, cannot help but become apparent.
Early on I toted my child to the library. Empowered him with his own card. Let him check out whatever he wanted to read: dinosaurs, rodents, tsunamis, airplanes, Star Wars.
my son’s library stash
It didn’t take long for him to catch on.
Soon I couldn’t carry all he wanted to take home. We employed his little metal grocery cart. I figure this way he is responsible to carry his own load.
That’s what you learn at the library. To carry your own load. To be responsible for your own learning.
I still check out materials as well. Still gravitate toward non-fiction. Carry my own load. How? I don’t know when I consider the piles amassed at home.
It’s tragic really. I’ll never get to them all before they’re due.
There’s never enough time to read all the books. Same as there’s never enough time to spend with all the friends, plant all the flowers, cook all the recipes, sing all the songs, travel to all the places.
my library stash
But I keep those piles of books on hand. They are close when in spare moments I can indulge in their words. Theirs is a load I carry with pleasure.
All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be. from Psalm 139:16 NIV
Today is where your book begins. The rest is still Unwritten…