I’m not going to spend this post telling you what a library is. I’m going to spend this post telling you what a library IS.
When I was younger and less intellectually-mature (I know, it happened, stop the presses) instead of playing football, mugging the elderly, performing surgery on the dog or anything else that kids do these days, I used to visit the library. The staff were friendly and it was quiet. I liked the quiet. It allowed you to concentrate on choosing the books you were interested in, enjoy a good book in the corner, or practice sign language. I was partial to perusing the large number of “choose your adventure” books, myself. At any rate, the library was a sacred place for those who enjoyed literature and it was one of my favourite places to go. Except on Wednesdays.
Jump forward to the present. The library’s been gone for a long time, torn down and replaced with a learning centre for “the troubled”. When I heard, I was devastated. My parents kindly assured me that it had been moved to Rossmore Community College, a local high school. Unfortunately, it breaks one of my rules.
A library, in my mind, is a place to work, relax and occasionally read. Universities and schools have adopted libraries en mass in the last few years, which makes sense, what with them being places of academia. These libraries are often a vortex of books and computers however, and most students don’t go to their school’s library for the books. That’s fine, they’re probably using them for research. At university, we spent a lot of time in the university library’s talk-permitted group work area, tapping away at our laptop keys. Those are good memories and they embody the spirit of the library, as the books and silent study areas are on the other side of the building, with the computers slightly distant as well. The sound levels were maintained.
The whole public library ethos has changed too much over the years. Nowadays, the average library will contain numerous computers, lazy college kids, some kind of coffee establishment and maybe, just maybe, a book or two here and there. The noise levels are still unacceptable in most places. With the dawn of the e-book, the closing of bookstores and the modern era blasting off at full speed, we can only hope that the humble day of the library hangs on for the ride.