May 26, 2011

I hate walking past the newark Public library now that there are signs that tell me it’s only open 3 days a week. I’ve never been a frequent patron of that particular library yet somehow, it irks me that it’s no longer an option. Sure, no one needs libraries anymore unless you’re poor and need internet access. Sure, they typically don’t have the books you really want.

My first time at this particular library was on my campus visit. Mike Turner and Ryan McIlvain were on hand to show me around the library building. I didn’t think the layout was particularly impressive, especially compared to the bustling modernity that is the Vancouver Public Library. newark’s Public library could, instead, double for a cheap vintage hotel with its central rotunda and spiralling staircases. There was a book sale on the third floor. We dug through stacks of old paperbacks and made fun of their titles and cover art. The elevator was dirty. On the main floor, the stacks were ugly and utilitarian. Even so, it was, unmistakably, a library, and made me happy.

That’s not why I’m sad about its eventual closing. It isn’t nostalgia but a notion of nobility that has me willing to donate money to a cause no one seems to care about. A library is like a forest in a national park, a relic perhaps, but beautiful and worthwhile in and of itself. We don’t go to parks to see ourselves. We go to parks to be among those not ourselves, the birds and the trees, the rivers and the trails. Libraries are like that. Unlike the internet, where the pages talk back, in a library, all one has is one’s yearning presence. We’ve gotten great at searching but not seeking. We search on the internet, and that’s well and good and worthwhile, but we really only seek at a library.


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