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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Libraries

Have I raved yet about the miracle that is the public library? If not, let me do so now.

What brilliant innovator of democracy decided that we should all have access to books? Books of every kind, and at no charge, and in whatever numbers we choose? That we citizens should be able to march into a building and walk out with an armful of loaned material? Take it home, enjoy it, savor it, renew it if we should so choose? Was it Benjamin Franklin? John Harvard? William Rind?

Whomever they were, these pioneers of the public library, I salute them. Each time I walk through the doors of my local branch, I marvel again at this gift.

Can you imagine visiting a free public auto vendor? Walk in, flash your card, and drive off in the Taurus or the Jetta of your choice? Keep it for a few weeks, then renew it and keep it for a few more? Can you imagine borrowing a food processor or a harrow or a pair of slacks? A paintbrush, a printer, a piece of art? Choosing it off the shelf, taking it home, and enjoying it like it were your own . . . all the while paying nothing? It's an outlandish idea, and yet the library exists.

Of all the books I've read and loved in my life, literally thousands were the property of my public library. Librarians have gone out of their ways, time and time again, to help me find out-of-print or one-of-a-kind texts. Because of the public library, my children have read 10,000 books (three per night for twelve years, at least). I love you, library. I thank all who keep you going.

M


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