In Praise of Libraries!
Updated: Oct 26, 2021
Everybody has been to the Library. Or some Library in their lives at some point. And there are all kinds! From Grade school to The Congress of the United States of America. And every single one of them is well used. They are formidable sources of information. They can shed light on almost any subject you can conjure up. Libraries can inspire you just by showing you the wealth of information and thoughtful discourse that has already happened before you even appeared. They can give you a place of study that is focused and quiet. They can change you mind, formulate your opinions, and argue against you. Libraries can introduce you to people who inspire you with their wisdom, or knowledge, or compassion, or leadership, and all other manner of Human behaviour. Libraries can show you every known culture in the world, and explain all the things that make us all people of earth. They can prove to you that challenges can be met, and that obstacles can be overcome. Libraries can show you hope, and they can teach you history. All under one roof. When people want to research for themselves they go to the Library. When people want the truth, they go to the Library.
For the good sake of us all there is one in just about every neighbourhood. I’ve never, that I know of, been to a place that didn’t have, or restricted the use of, Libraries. I am sure that they exist, but I don’t know that I have every been there. Seems to me that Libraries are the very centre of all good things! Libraries can let people learn the things no one wants to teach them. Libraries let you find out the truth for yourself. That the mere fact that they exist is an act of freedom. Expressed by the people who fund Libraries. And in our case that would be the tax payer, you and me. And I have no problem with it. I know how to use them because they taught us how in grade school. One of the few useful things they did teach us. And I do hope more people would make use of the fist full of services that Public Libraries offer. Losing them would seem to me be losing a piece of our freedom. Of giving away access to knowledge. And of cutting ourselves off from ever having an attainable truth.
I’ve had a running love affair with Libraries that, although slow starting, picked up steam quickly and has never left me. In grade school it was the room with the rugs, and had that old teacher the loved books more than people, wore the glasses with the rope on them, and was always happy until you made too much noise. The books were mostly picture books, and you read them right there, unless you signed one out for the weekend. It was a fun room, but you had to be quiet, so I didn’t spend too much time there.
In High School it was different. It was bigger. And there were lots more books. There were things you could look up, and you had to go to the stacks to find were it might be in that really big room. You could often get hidden, behind the shelves of books. Ours was converted from the old Gym, and had partial second floor the ran the outside of almost the whole room with a wide staircase in the middle and large two story windows opposite, creating a sort of mini mezzanine in the middle of the room. We had our favourite place in the corner by the fire exit. This Library was also run by a person who had a rope on his glasses. But he was not always happy, and not very nice. At least not to us loud and trouble prone boys. (We often demonstrated the proper procedure for cardiac arrest right in the middle of that mini mezzanine. A subject, usually my buddy Andrew, would drop to the floor demonstrating the effects of a full on cardiac arrest, squirming on the floor, and screaming in pain. A “First Responder”, usually me, would rush up and start pounding on his chest screaming things we heard from that show about fire trucks “Emergency” on TV the night before.
The crowd loved it.
The glasses wearing, book hoarding, silence loving, Mr. Schwartz, not so much.)
That is were I got to know about Libraries. Loved when I figured out that you could look up a “subject”, not just a book, and finds things that you didn’t know existed; When I figured out Libraries like to number things funny; Realizing that most of the books there someone thought was worth the read; When you figured out what a bibliography was and how to use it! Really broke my teeth in that Library.
The second floor was all study cubicles and is where you went when you were behind and had to get shit done. As in:
“Don’t go up there, dude. He’s got shit to do.
“How do you know?”
“He’s upstairs!?! Wow! You paying attention? I got ball. Later.”
The Library was the place to get your project done. For the first three years of high school all the information you would need was in the school Library. Was it a choice on the list of things you could write about? Shit’s in the Library. Until you got to grade 12. In grade 12 and 13, suddenly our fantastic Library that used to be a Gym was too small?!We had to go to the reference Library on Yonge St.
Now, that place was huge! It had just opened. I wondered to myself how they could call such a great building a Library and get away with it? Four floors! It was mind blowing! There was no end to the stuff they had. A waterfall in the lobby, and elevators, and meeting rooms, and escalators, huge plants, and computers to look things up, and very easy to find stuff. Books, periodicals, magazines, maps, films, newspapers, mico film, video tape, and more, on everything we would ever need. (Or so we thought.) And most people in there were there to get some work done. There was no noise, no messing about. There are some fantastic study areas that we found. We discovered a whole new world of study, where going there was met with respect. And we loved that. I spent more than a few hours in that building. Those great big desks with the lights above. You needed the room. Spread your shit out so you can see it all. You had to find the things you wanted to use, make all your notes, write for hours so people could read it, and then read it over to make sure you hadn’t messed up. Heaven help you if you had to do something over. There was a lot of stuff to do! It was a great place to work.
University Of Regina had a library and though I was not there long, I did frequent the place. Regina is built in a small depression in the prairie. And although the University is just outside the city, it too sits in a small depression. A valley of sorts. The Library had four floors, I think. As a building it was pretty non-descript. A simple building housing books. But from the third floor and up you were twenty to forty feel above the plain. And you could see for m