An Ode to the Library
The library down the street from our house, just a few minutes away, is my favorite place to get some work down in the afternoons. It is reverently quiet, facilitated by the harsh shush and side-eye the friendly librarians have perfected. The only time the quiet gets broken is when some poor mom brings in her two year old, and he/she refuses to cooperate with said rules of library etiquette. I have been this mom, multiple times, in this very library. Isaiah’s spirit refuses to be tamed by spaces intended for quiet, and our library trips end much more successfully when we leave Isaiah at home.
Now, if I’m working, and I see a mom or dad haul their loud little one out the doors to disapproving stares, I try to shoot them sympathetic eyes.
The library is still fairly new. It’s clean and well-designed, filled with mostly pristine new books. I spend more minutes than I should browsing the racks, running my fingers along smooth spines and wandering down book stacks lit by wide banks of windows. When I finally settle into write or email or edit, there is little to distract me that will cost money. No fancy lattes or fresh pastries. No ice-cold diet cokes or art hanging on the walls. Instead, I am only distracted by neighbors.
One day, I see two boys who used to play football with us. One is here looking at books, and I am impressed by him. The other uses the computers like many of our neighbors do, for look for a job. He borrows a thumb drive to save the resume we put together, seated close and speaking in hushed whispers about which points to include and which missteps to leave out.
The same old man sits in the corner, always, reading a large hardback book. I am in fact, wondering where he is today when I see him walk in. Someone is in his chair, so he sits across from me, and I smell the tobacco and flash him a smile when he goes to get a new book off the shelf. The security officer wanders around, before sitting down to watch a video silently on his phone.
A public space for learning and growing, for filling our heads and ourselves with stories and with hope. Meanwhile, I owe $15 in overdue fines, and have to print a list of which books we are still missing so I can send the kids on a more pointed scavenger hunt through their rooms.