I spent a good portion of this past Saturday helping my wife with her small business. She is a master baker and makes a variety of Mediterranean breads and desserts. Her goodies are artisanal and high-end. She sells them each Saturday at a farmer’s market located in Boerne, Texas, a town with a large German-speaking population and a place where people have money.
About noon, Linda Plecak, a resident of Boerne and a librarian who works at the college where I teach and manage a couple of writing centers, stopped by my wife’s table. Before picking up an Italian-style lemon curd tart, a baklava, and a fateer meshaltet, the two of us spent a few minutes chatting about work and such.
During our conversation, I mentioned how much I liked the college’s library. I also told her that I had long viewed libraries as sacred places.
I remember the very first library I ever stepped foot into. There was a little one located in a building that was situated on the south side of Georgetown Primary, my first real school after kindergarten. Once or twice per week, our teachers would take us there. We were required to line up, single file, at the classroom front door and then march down a couple of long breezeways on our way to that building of books. In those days, it seemed like a long sojourn—like a bit of an adventure. We were told to walk in an orderly and quiet way. The solemnity of our excursion reinforced the notion that we were headed to a special kind of place.
In college, I began to regularly visit the library in the evenings because it was the best place to study. It was housed in a large and impressive building. I vividly recall taking breaks during my study sessions and walking slowly among the stacks. I would read the titles and authors’ names printed on the spines of all those hundreds of thousands of tomes. It was almost as if I could hear a cacophony of voices as I walked along. The voices spoke all the languages of the world. They spoke of history, literature, politics, philosophy, psychology and so on—about all the subjects under the sun.
In graduate school, on long nights of study, I would often find a quiet sofa, located in some out-of-the-way spot in one of the enormous libraries, and nap. During such slumbers, I’d often have strange and exciting dreams. I’d wake up from those rests feeling refreshed and ready to stick my nose in again—to read about, and look for, the secrets of life and wisdom.
Here are some interesting facts about libraries. They are places where the determined student can encounter an entire universe of ideas. I have made many wonderful and surprising discoveries inside of libraries. In them, I have learned innumerable things about the world and about myself. In libraries, a person can find happiness, purpose, and love. In libraries, a person can meet her past, present, and future. In libraries, a person can experience the sacred.
I’d like to hear your thoughts about libraries. Have you had a favorite one? If so, tell me about the place.
I look forward to your comments. Thanks for reading.
If you like my writing, you can find more here; although, my personal blog certainly needs to be updated.