I don’t completely know how to say this, so I will use a combination of the English language and computer keys and try my best: I love the library.
I am not… great… with emotions. But there, I said it. I did it. I expressed feelings that expanded further than “UGHHH everyone is the worst,” and “I am not great with emotions.” I’m on my knees (well, I’m sitting at a desk), looking libraries in the eye (staring at my computer screen), and professing, loudly (typing, silently) my undying love.
Libraries, I love you.
Here’s the thing about libraries: they’re better than almost everything else ever to exist. And while there is one thing I’d change (why are there no vending machines, WHY), the rest is perfect. Libraries are a free, welcoming, warm (or cold, depending on A/C temp) space with the simplest of all mottos: “Hey! Come hang out and read here.”
You can’t beat that with an egg beater (if you’re likening a library to an omelette, which I am), because any place conducive to reading is better than a place that is not, 85-100% of the time.
The librarian at my hometown library told me recently that she—and the institution that is The Library—was trying to make it less like some stuffy, shushed nightmare and more like a living room. That’s why, now, you could and can literally bring a rotisserie chicken into the place and no one would say a damn thing. It’s also why you can park in front of the fireplace (the fireplace!) for hours and rotate through various coffees. I’ve never been told to be quiet, kids run around freely (but without it being goddamn Romper Room), and there are so many windows I feel like I’m in a New York loft (because that’s what they look like in my mind). Libraries, man. I love them.
I love that when you’re a kid, going to the library is a big deal. All by yourself, YOU were going to get BOOKS, and you were going to pick them out YOURSELF, like a real person. Libraries weren’t some parental domain like a video store or Toys-R-Us: here/there, you could LITERALLY (or literarily… eh? eh?) choose your own adventure, and the only thing your Mom could respond with was, “Well . . . if you insist.” (And I did. I did insist on taking out the Jurassic Park movie tie-in book at least once every two weeks.)
And then the magic wears off. Well, no: the magic of books never, ever wears off, but when we are old enough to take ourselves to the mall, get hammered with friends, and sit in Arby’s parking lots talking shit about so-and-so, we think we don’t need libraries anymore. That, my friends, is a lie.
As grown-ups, we need libraries more than ever. We need libraries because the need to escape never really goes away, and neither does the need for a place where it’s safe to just sit somewhere and shut the fuck up. I love, despite it being a little bit more like a living room, that talking is lame at the library. I like that I have no choice but to hunker down and write love letters to brilliant community establishments (a.k.a. do my damn job), and that if I see someone from high school that I’ve lost touch with, they’ll be irritating me AND everyone around them by trying to start a conversation. (Not like the guy who tried to make me take my headphones off at Starbucks yesterday, which is why I no longer really work at coffee shops.)
Libraries give us permission to learn, and to grow, and to challenge ourselves. Unlike universities or colleges, you don’t need money to be there, you can just access information like any other citizen. You can work like you mean it. You can read like there aren’t enough books in the world. And that’s what you’re supposed to do.
This love is real. The need for libraries are real. Our need to respect and declare our feelings for libraries? Realer.
So libraries? If you can read this—and I know you can because that’s your THING—I love you. Never change. I mean, maybe get vending machines. But other than that? Just let me get whimsical on my laptop while I hang out, trying to somehow eat this bag of chips silently out of consideration for others.
Yours Most Sincerely,
PS. Do you know if you still stock the Jurassic Park book, please get back to me.