Get Thee To A Library

by Randy Murray on August 31, 2010

You should make your local library one of the places that you visit regularly. Especially if you’re playing The Spend Nothing Game.

I’m fortunate to have an excellent community library near by. The Westerville Public Library is a wonderful place to work in public (which we’ll talk about in Friday’s Writing Assignment) and has an extensive collection. It has a focus on local history, including the Anti-Saloon League, the center of the prohibition movement (the community remained “dry” until 2007!).

Not only does it have popular new books, and a deep collection of older books and reference works like dictionaries and atlases, but loads of periodicals, movies on DVD, music CDs, and lots more. There are meeting and study rooms that anyone can reserve. And there’s an extensive list of classes and events going on. And all of it provided free of charge. The community bears the cost of the library through taxes, but for all who wish to use the facilities, collections, and services, there’s no charge.

That is a remarkable concept and a core part of the American experience. From Benjamin Franklin’s Library Company to the Library of Congress and the more than 2,500 Carnegie Libraries (1,689 in the US), community libraries have been an essential part of the development of this country. The Carnegie Library in the small town of Centralia, Illinois, close to where I grew up, was a near-sacred place to me. I thought of it as dark and cool and formal. A wonderful and near-magical institution.

A library, like mine here in Westerville, is a place where you can really feel part of a community. There are local citizens of all ages and economic strata. Sitting in that building, I feel proud of what my community and I have done.

But more than that, the library, almost any library, gives one a sense of the possible. Even the simplest small town library provides that connection to a great body of knowledge and a perspective that’s very important to all thinking individuals: I don’t know everything, but I can find out almost anything. The answers are close by.

So make a regular appointment on your schedule to visit your library. Think of it as something special to do for yourself. Take along friends and family. Become a part of that great human endeavor to explore and understand the universe. Or just check out that latest novel from your favorite author. But use the experience to remind yourself that there’s more to learn, more to know, and you too might contribute to this vast collection of human knowledge and experience.

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The Get Thee To A Library by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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