It’s National Library Month. Now, if you’re reading this, you likely think libraries are a good thing. I myself think they’re essential to civilization as we know it.
I am not exaggerating. From Internet access and job-hunting help, to protecting civil liberties and keeping or starting children reading, libraries keep the wheels of society moving positively.
Last night I got a new perspective on this. I was sitting at the front desk, and I heard a low, menacing growl. What now? Wolves jumping out of the storybooks again? My eyes jumped up to the puppet house, where I saw a young man on the floor, playing with an absolutely adorable toddler and our big sheepdog puppet. The sheepdog advanced on the child, growling, until the little boy squealed, at which point the sheepdog engulfed the kid, madly kissing. More peals of laughter. Over and over, both of them in glee.
And that made me think (as well as smile). Libraries, as well as all the other essential services they provide, actually do uphold (forgive the phrase) family values: the really basic ones. Let’s say community values. Specifically, sharing.
We buy resources as a community–books, CDs, movies, computers, internet access, a library building, library staff–and then we share them. Sometimes we have to wait before it’s our turn. If we don’t take good care of the items, no one else gets to use them. These very basic truths reflect the fact that we are a group. We are in this together. Our individual actions impact each other. We learned this in kindergarten or before, but perhaps as adults we focus less on it.
So the next time you come to the library, know that you are exercising excellent community values, and supporting civilization as we know it. Not bad for a humble library. And — happy National Library Month.