Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Floor One and a Half

"The library is the temple of learning, and learning has liberated more people than all the wars in history."
-Carl T. Rowan

Libraries are my haven. They are for me another world entirely and I could not do without them.
I feel like royalty when I have the privilege to pull volumes from shelves to bring home- as many as I might desire.
Our local library is our most recent discovery. Up until a couple of months ago we had been attending a more modern building which is part of the same network but a little further from our home. That library is shiny like a new penny, smells faintly of paint and, while it possesses anything physical that a book-lover can hope for, it is utterly devoid of charm.
On a whim Spouse and I thought to investigate the nearby building in the downtown- and glad are we for doing so.
Old as the hills, solemn stone like a noble university, familiar: we have come to adore its very walls. There are endless stone staircases, towering pillars and magnificent feats of architecture to behold. Heavy gilded frames house stern portraits of past Presidents and other notable historical figures.
Not a thing feels new save for the blinking computer terminals.
My sense of direction is something to weep over, and I am forever astounding my Spouse by getting lost but in the case of this library, in my defence, it does have a puzzling and mysterious layout.
My favourite section, the floor that houses the endless, erudite pages of E.B. White, George Orwell, Barbara Kingsolver, Firoozeh Dumas and James Thurber, among others, is not, so to speak, on any floor at all.
One accesses it through an elevator- it is worse for me to attempt to roam between the stately staircases. The elevator pauses midway between one floor and another- sort of a half-floor- and one steps out of the opposite door upon arrival.
There is a little window that overlooks the main reception area where one started from, and it is clear the position is neither low enough to be that level nor high enough to be on the next floor.
I stagger, then, under a low ceiling, around this non-existent floor of curiosity and indulge in some treasure hunting, all the while reminding myself that yes, it is indeed like another world: in the hidden depths of a secret floor of books, deep in the core of a princely, intricate library, I feel as though I am safe from everything destructive and unbook-like.
The world grows more cruel and oftentimes the only possible reaction is to retreat to the places that bring comfort.
There, perchance, nestled among the words of E.B. White and Barbara Kingsolver, may we read our way through until we learn from them how to deal with the outer world and how to face it with a good measure of courage.


Pappy said...

Try to find the old Jimmy Buffett tune, "Love in the Library". I think you'd love it. I like them myself. They just aren't the same anymore. Very techno these days. Have a great week.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

I knew my Spouse had Jimmy Buffet's albums somewhere so I dug them up today and sure enough, the album 'Fruitcakes' has that song.
I can see why you recommended it. I know I've never heard it and yet it's familiar. That rarely happens with a song, that you immediately feel you know it.
I used to live in Texas and our local library had about three times the number of movies as it did books. In our local one it's a little bit better but still an awful lot of digital media is taking over the bookshelves. I suppose it can't be helped...

Pappy said...

Glad you found it. I think the lyrics are great. It takes place in Mobile, Alabama and I am very familiar with that area. So, when I heard it, I had an immediate connection.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

My favourite line is
"gathered her books, walked while she read..." I can identify.
It's a good song.

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