Thursday, October 25, 2012

I *heart* the Library

This Library afforded me the Means of Improvement by constant Study, for which I set apart an Hour or two each Day - Ben Franklin
Maltese Falcon from Library
Your tax dollars pay for the public library system. It is worth every penny.
In high school I would bike down the road to the public library and spend a few hours there on an afternoon or weekend. I read the various computer trader magazines and would take down notes of what I wanted to do or photocopy pages out. My parents paid for me me to subscribe to one of them at home, but I wanted to read the others without letting my allowance take a hit. I remember that one (BYTE or PC World) would have assembly programs in them that I always looked forward to typing in when I got home. So it was a great habit of mine to bike there and read the magazines. I also devoured the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section of the library using the patent-pending "how to find an awesome book" method.
After college my habits remained when I was living in San Leandro and when I was living in Palo Alto. There was a period of time when I would stop by the library in SL on my way home Friday night, checkout a book, and have it finished by the time the weekend was over. I hyper-read books like Space Odyssey, Three Muskateers, Brave New World and more. My focus was on "classics," partially because it was the Jordan-system will typically lead you to and partially because there is a reason they have been considered "good" for decades or centuries. Timeless classics are called that, not because they are a fad, but because they are, in fact, timeless classics and amazing. Even ones I read for grade school or high school took on a new life reading them as an adult with an adult-level understanding of the world and it's problems. A character having trouble paying his mortgage means a lot more to me now that I have a mortgage than it did as a Freshman in highschool.
A lot of people think the days for the library system are going away, what with the internet and the Kindle and all, but they are wrong! Have you been to the library recently? In Europe that have renamed them from "Bilioteca" to "Mediateca." In America, though we have not renamed them, the spirit is the same. You can get movies, audiobooks and time on the computers to browser the internet, which is truly the library of the future.
Ben Franklin is usually cited as create the first public library back in the day. While he created it primarily to settle bar bets, I applaud the man. Not to be too preachy, but In America, where we talk about the dream that anyone can achieve anything, the most important thing to keep that dream alive is to give them the tools to do it. I find few things to be more American then our dedication to public schools and public libraries, those are the tools. Some kids can download "Don Quixote" from Project Gutenberg and put it on their Kindle and other kids can walk out of the library with it for free. Both of those methods are equally amazing to me--both triumphs of technology, one electronic the other social.