As a young woman, I spent a lot of time in the library. It was more than a place to kill a few hours every day in-between school and work; it was a magical place where all things were possible.
But lately, I have gotten out of the habit of visiting these local treasures. Enrolling in a Ph.D. program interrupted any leisure reading I might have enjoyed for several years and since (temporarily but for what is becoming a more extended time than I originally anticipated) disenrolling, I have, for some reason, not been voraciously reading as I had been in the past. While I still enjoy good books and articles, and read when I can, I often find myself too tired at night when I snuggle into bed to read and too busy during the day to take the time. I also spend much too much time at work in front of a computer so using my eyes to read text above and beyond that time is sometimes undesirable.
I recently visited three local libraries as part of a history research project. I have been to all three countless times before, as I have lived in all three cities, but had not stepped foot in any of them more than once or twice over the past few years. I felt that magic feeling again, a mixture of possibility, stillness, intellectual stimulation, and safety. It is an environment beautifully calibrated with my soul, a place where I feel right at home. According to the 2015 State of America’s Libraries: A Report from the American Library Association, Americans see libraries as “anchors, centers for academic life and research, and cherished spaces.” Yes, that’s it.
Libraries fill my heart with joy and my mind with wisdom. Like my home, the beach, and farms, they are one of the places where I feel most at ease, inspired, and alive. The last time I visited a library. a toddler was screaming and crying after story time because he didn’t want to leave. I couldn’t have said it better myself.