Libraries As a Constant

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“Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future.”

—Ray Bradbury

Libraries are part of my past, my present, and my future. They have been, regardless of how many places I’ve lived or traveled, a constant.

I’ve moved around a decent amount in my life. Overall, when I stop to count, it’s over 15 cities (and I’m 31). The places and people could change. Sometimes even the major language.

But libraries were everywhere, and they were something I always remember understanding.

My mom is responsible for this. (Thanks, mom!) She was, and is, a very big proponent of libraries. This means my siblings and I got regular trips to the library, and I learned how to navigate and search at a very early age.

I was a natural searcher, and really liked the challenge of finding the different books I wanted. I’d usually try to find it on my own first, but was also fine with going to the librarian for help (which says something, since I was a pretty shy child).

Every time we moved to a new place, I needed a library card. Even now when I move, I get a library card as soon as I have the materials needed to get one. And I mean as soon as I can.

Libraries were comforting. They were places where I could follow any train of thought, and be as curious as I wanted to be. They were freeing and empowering. And they spoke to me in a language I could always understand, regardless of where I was.

During a particularly rough moment in my life, libraries were actually one of the few places I felt safe going out to alone. Because I knew them, and they gave me not only a wide wealth of cool stuff to check out but also stability. They were, as much as places can be, trusted friends to me when I needed it.

I can safely say that if I hadn’t had libraries in my life I don’t think I’d be who I am today. I used them to learn about all the things that crossed my mind. My love of folklore, of urban legends, of stories in general, and of writing was fueled by my library card.

My career path is in libraries because I understood them. I am a writer because I grew up surrounded by words and tales. I am constantly curious because I know the fun of finding answers.

Libraries give people the chance to have a safe place with access an amazing amount of resources. They are there to treat everyone equally when many places in the world do not.

Although the buildings and books may change, the spirit of a library has a common thread that makes it feel familiar, regardless of where you are. Personally, they’ve always been a bit like my hometown.

There is an equality that occurs in libraries. Members of different parts of a community can come in and be granted the same level of access to resources. They can find a shared interest, and they can work or relax in a common area, without ever even talking to another person (although I have seen many library conversations and friendships happen). By being a place of equal access, and by having so many common policies, they can provide a sense of home in the most unfamiliar places.

As a library worker, but even more so as a library user, it’s nice to stop every once and while to thank them for what they’ve done for me.

If you haven’t been to the library in a while, swing by. I’m sure it would love to see you, and I guarantee there will be something there you’ll like.

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