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Happy Library Appreciation Day

Several years ago I was asked to describe my favorite library. My answer then was the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale.

On the outside, the place looks like a white Rubik’s Cube. The walls are made of panels of thin marble, so thin they let light through. When you walk in on a sunny day, you enter an open area lit by warm, translucent walls, you see displays of beautiful, ancient manuscripts, and you know that you are in the presence of some of the rarest books in the world. It takes my breath away.

I still love the Beinecke. But if you asked me now whether it is my favorite library, I‘d hedge. Not because it has changed — thank goodness, it has not. But because I have spent a great deal more time in my local library lately.

Besides being the place where I find great graphic novels, and new books, and old books, and folks willing to find obscure books for me, it is where I do my most productive work.

The place is a hive of activity. The librarians offer programs for little kids, and big kids, and kids at heart, and people who don’t want to have anything to do with kids. There's the Anime club for teens, and the matinees during the week for retirees; guest speakers; Sunday events; book fairs; art exhibits; and my favorite, poems that are hung in all the bathroom stalls, changed daily. Yet at the heart of this hub-bub is productive quiet, serious research, people reading and learning, students and professionals. And most important for me, a corner to spread out in and quietly reflect and write.

The more time I have spent in my small local library, the more I have realized that librarians are the glue that keep our society together. They do preserve and display wonderful and unique books. But equally important, they bring the day-to-day, in all its media, to everyone they serve.

I do love my library.

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