Today, I am taking a copy of my first published book to my library because the library director requested a copy for their collection. In the life of a bookish person, this rates quite high on the internal Thrill-O-Meter. Actually, today’s errand constitutes a trifecta of delight: to have written a book I wanted to write, to have found a discerning publisher who embraced and improved it, and to know that it will be on the shelf at my very own beloved neighborhood library.
Libraries are magic places. The internet is like Aladdin’s lamp or a flying carpet, able to summon up nuggets of information at a touch or transport us instantly to another land. A library, though, is an oasis, an Ali Baba’s cave, a place we enter and are surrounded at every turn by treasure: the colored jewels of book jackets, illustrations, and photographs; the polished gold of exquisite language that, once encountered, enriches a life forever.
For information, wisdom, and sheer fun, libraries are, for me, rivaled only by the natural world and my own home. As Cicero said, “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” Not everyone can manage a garden, but we all have free and equal access to the library. I think of a library as a great horn of plenty, spilling abundance into the world. I am grateful for this civilized form of sharing the harvest of experience. And today, I am grateful to be able to offer a little something back.