Of the many great inventions and ideas ascribed to Ben Franklin, I’m putting libraries at the top. You’re welcome to disagree. You may be far more struck by that whole kite with lightning thing. (Yes, the pun was painfully obvious.) Or perhaps you’re into bondage. Which has nothing to with Ben Franklin. So I’m not sure why you’re bringing it up.
At any rate, ask yourself this – when is the last time you went to the library? Okay, so you got me on a technicality. You probably haven’t been to an actual library since at least March, what with most of them being shuttered. Pandemic and all. But if you haven’t frequented a library or even taken advantage of its services since before this “new regular” began, then you might not even know what you’re missing.
First of all, there are orgies. LOTS of them. Okay, not really. But your public library is home to an impressive collection of informational and inspiring tomes that may include the likes of Wuthering Heights, the works of Shakespeare, Catch-22, and The Illustrated Guide to Drawing Pelicans. Volumes one AND two. That’s right. There’s no skimping at the library. And they’re kind enough to just let you borrow any books you want! All you need is a library card, some spats, a top hat, and a monocle. No, wait. You only need those last three if you want to be Mr. Peanut. So just a library card.
If books aren’t exactly your thing, believe me, I understand. When I was growing up in the 1970s, there was a huge literacy campaign that insisted upon the chirpy tagline Reading Is FUNdamental. Because I was a phenomenally slow reader, I thought reading was fundamentally stupid. I don’t feel that way now, of course. It’s not that I’m any faster at reading. I just don’t have to write book reports anymore so I don’t really have to pay attention.
But that’s my story. You may despise reading with a vitriol normally reserved for hate groups. While that seems an extreme reaction to such a peaceful and important skill, who am I to judge? I’ll tell you who’s not judging though. That’s right. The library. They’ve made it possible for people to download music, movies, audio books, and other forms of entertainment right onto their laptops, phones, or other devices. And for folks who’ve recently managed to step into the 1990s, there are sections with CDs and DVDs available for check out too. It’s universally agreed upon that you can never see Sister Act too many times.
Then there’s the magazine section – quite possibly the most important section of the library. Not to channel my inner 80-year-old, but have you seen how much a single magazine issue costs these days? I’m sorry, but I’m not comfortable paying $10 for a rag that will ultimately become fodder for homemade collage greeting cards. Instead, I go to the library, borrow a few of their issues, then buy myself something pretty (like a nice bottle of wine) with all of the money I saved. Some days, just for fun, I’ll gather an armful of Vegetarian Times and Guns and Ammo, just to mess with the librarian at the check-out.
Speaking of librarians, they’re another awesome perk of your local library. Think what you want about librarians. No, seriously. Go ahead. You don’t need my permission.
I guess all that I’m really trying to say is that libraries are awesome. Eventually they’ll open again and even if there aren’t orgies, they will resume being hubs for book clubs, yoga classes, internet access, community meetings, or any other number of gatherings that strengthen our social collective. They are also a safe haven for the homeless.
Furthermore, right now, when we’re so limited in what we can do and where we can go, there’s this amazing and FREE resource for entertainment, motivation, learning, inspiration, and dreaming right here in our community. So take advantage of it.
Because, honestly, a pelican drawing is a terrible thing to waste.