Friday, November 16, 2007

I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library

I'm sorry, but as awesome as my anonymous guest poster's entry was yesterday, I just cannot let Leonard Nimoy be the "L" in my Encyclopedia of Me. I am going to pick another L word mentioned in that entry, though.

L is for library.

I love the library. I was going to try to type out all the reasons I love the library, but then I remembered that I already did that once before. In fact, if I type "library" into the search box on my blog, no fewer than 20 entries come up. And that's just using Blogger's less-than-stellar, unreliable search system. Surely there are a few more.

About a year ago, I did a meme requiring me to list ten "L" things that I love. I still cannot believe that I damn-near completely forgot to include libraries in that post. I have so many fond memories of the library. I could tell you about all sorts of them... about my mom taking me to evening story hour in my pajamas, about collecting stamps on my card for the Summer Reading Program every year, about how every kid in my hometown remembers climbing on the giant rock in front of our public library (and how every one of us has likely had a moment when we returned to that spot as a grown up and thought, "didn't that rock used to be a whole lot bigger??").

I remember being fascinated and overwhelmed by the amazing size of my college library (which likely really isn't so big as far as university libraries go, but was large enough to fit at least 23 of my hometown libraries inside and therefore was astounding to my 18-year-old self).

I remember walking past a library with some friends on a weekend trip several years ago and watching as my friend Dale opened the book depository and stuck his head inside. "It smells like books!" he said. And it did. I never realized libraries have a unique and distinctive smell, much less a smell that involuntarily makes me smile. Sniff a book depository next time you get a chance and I think you'll see what I mean.

Bad things never happen at the library. Or, they almost never do, anyway. Libraries are a sacred place, a perfect democracy, a free pass to a workshop on any topic you choose.

I just Googled the quote in my subject line to remind myself who said it (Jorge Luis Borges), and I found a long list of other excellent quotes that prove I'm not the only one with lofty opinions about libraries. It includes one of my favorites, from one of my favorite books (Hallie in Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Dreams saying "Libraries are the one American institution you shouldn't rip off"). But they left out another of my favorites, from a book I've read more recently:

"I have sort of a Christmas-morning sense of the library as a big box full of beautiful books."

- Clare, in The Time Traveler's Wife

I know what she means.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

On a completely different note, how about one last round of applause for -R- and the fantastic Blog Share she organized? Seriously, people, that was so much fun. I know I am not supposed to tell you which "anonypost" (TM 3Carnations) was mine, but the truth is I don't even care if anyone in Blogland figures it out. It was just fun to tell a story that was so screaming to be blogged about but which I could not in good conscious put on my own site. In fact, I almost wish I could put my name on my post on its host site, because when you read a comment like "I wish I knew who this was so I could read their blog" or "Tell us who you are so we can come over," I want to say, "Me! It's me! And I'd love if you come over!"

But then again, not every day is candid Blog Share Day, so maybe it's best those commenters don't know who I am after all. I'd hate to disappoint anyone who comes here looking for absurdity and scandal only to find a mundane post about the library or my grandma or the inappropriate things I tell my doctor.

I'm definitely looking forward to the next Blog Share Day, though. Start saving up your secret stories now, folks.


Aaron said...

I love the smell of libraries. So many of my fondest childhood memories involved simply going to the library. Which, yeah, I was a weird kid, but whatever.

Great post today.

3carnations said...

The post I thought for sure was you, you commented on. Maybe you were being sly. Although...Those comments you quoted...I remember those from another post...But that's just not possible...So I'll stop thinking.

Anonymous said...

I adore the library. I often refer to it as "the Best Deal Going." I mean, come on. Free books? All that knowledge? And it's so quiet. I wish they weren't struggling so much, because libraries were the source of a lot of fond childhood memories for me, too.

3carnations said...

Oh, and you and -R- are so sweet to credit me with "anonypost". I was just thinking "It's just a combination of two words, no big deal, it's been done before. Let me think of an example...Oh, brother. The first one I can think of is 'Elimidate'."

Anonymous said...

This post made me smile so hard. I love the library too! (Big surprise, I know.) Honestly, those memories from childhood are the entire reason I went and got my Masters in Library Science. That's how much I loved it.

Also, I'm 90% sure I guessed which post was yours yesterday. And I loved it. :)

lizgwiz said...

I worked at my college library for a couple of years. Once we had an issue with a guy "exposing" himself in the stacks. "Zip up your pants, mister-this is a LIBRARY!"

Stefanie said...

Aaron--You're still a weird kid, aren't you? I mean that in the best way possible, of course. Most of my favorite people are big weird kids.

3Cs--You know, I thought of that... that we should all post "decoy comments" on our own posts to thwart guesses like that. I did not post a decoy comment on my own post, though. But now I'm wondering which other post you thought was me!

Nabb--It IS the best deal going! It makes me so sad to see libraries become less and less accessible due to funding constraints.

3Cs--Well, I saw that on R's site, and I wanted to maintain credit if that's where the word came from. :-) And Elimidate! Ah, memories. Such a tragically terrible show and yet such a fantastic guilty pleasure.

NPW--I thought about library science for the same reasons, obviously, but, um, then I remembered how much you have to work with PEOPLE in the library, and I realized it's probably not the best job for me.

Liz--Yeah, pervs in the library is another reason I'm not a librarian. (I have a friend who is, and I've heard all sorts of scary stories. Such a shame...)

Anonymous said...

I think I know which post was yours yesterday and it was possibly the greatest thing ever. I tried to comment on the site, but my comment was spammed or otherwise voided -- I got some wacky error screen when I tried to post it.

Anyway. Awesome.

L Sass said...

The NYC libraries are a great resource but almost always overrun. It's been a long time since I've just browsed a library--usually I reserve books online and just run in to pick up and drop off.

Your post reminds me of many afternoons in my childhood spent at the Ridgedale library, though! It was a big event.

-R- said...

That's so funny that you want to claim the guest post. I understand, but I just picture you leaving a comment saying, "This was me!" and it cracks me up.

I have always loved the library. And sometimes we got to stop at Baskin Robbins on the way home when I was in elementary school! But I was never allowed to buy the cone with the clown face. I wanted that clown face cone so much!

Stefanie said...

Lawyerish--Your comment went through; I saw it. Thanks. :-)

L Sass--I mostly do the online and pickup thing, too, but I do love to just get lost in the stacks browsing on occasion.

R--I'm glad you could use good memories of the library to bring up memories of your mother depriving you of joy (or at least, of ice cream). If we were at a Baskin Robbins right now, I would buy you a clown face cone! :-)

Anonymous said...

Right after I declined blog share, I thought of the perfect thing to post, because I have one really big secret, and many things to say about it. For now, I will just say that I love the library, too.