“A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy, for there, in a book, you may find encouragement and comfort. A library is a good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided, for there, in a book, you may have your question answered. Books are good company, in sad times and happy times, for books are people – people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book.”
[Letters of Note; Troy (MI, USA) Public Library, 1971]”
― E.B. White
I’ve recently discovered podcasts and I absolutely love them. I’ve always been a fan of audiobooks. I could not have survived my daily commutes without my recorded books. I’m not sure it’s a good thing to say, but time flew as I listened to my stories while making my way to downtown Denver or wherever I needed to be that day.
These days, I’m not spending a lot of time in the car. Completing an audiobook now takes me weeks where it used to take me days. A few years ago there was quite a buzz about one specific podcast on one of the morning shows. I remembered that and thought maybe podcasts could be my new survival tool. The podcast creating all the excitement at that time was season one of Serial. If you haven’t listened to this podcast, you have to check it out.
This morning I was listening to the Good Life Project. The host, Jonathan Fields, was talking about how our world has gone digital, leaving those of us who are the touchers and the feelers feeling lost. My summary does not do his podcast justice but what it did for me was remind me of how I felt when I walked into the library here in our new community of Marble Falls, Texas. As I walked through the front doors, I felt such an overwhelming feeling of relief–like I had finally found something I’d been searching for for years. I’d found a place where I could physically walk up to a book, pick it up, smell the pages, and hear the sound of the pages turning. I was a tactile person deprived of touch.
My love for the library goes back to my early childhood. I loved books and visited the Traer Public Library as soon as I was old enough to have a library card. I remember holding my Mom’s hand as we walked up what seemed like hundreds of steps so we could talk to the libraian and get my very own library card.
Going to the library was a true event. The library was a large brick structure with high double entry doors, windows that symmetrically covered the front part of the building, and a long, long, long series of steps that marked the progress made into this very special world of books. It didn’t matter how many times I made this journey, I was always excited to reach the top, pull open the heavy front door, and twist myself inside before the wind gusted the door closed behind me.
No matter what else was going on in my life, whenever I walked through those doors, I was in a world where I could explore and escape. It was my refuge.
My Kindle is priceless because I can carry my entire library with me wherever I go. I would not want to give that up. But, rediscovering the public library was even more precious to me. After listening to Jonathan this morning, I see why walking through the front door that day was such an emotional experience. With those few steps, I was transported back to my first library visit where I’d found my place of personal refuge.
I love you.