Can you imagine a world without libraries? I shudder to think of such a possibility for libraries have always played an important role in my life. As a child in a very small S. C. town, I remember my excitement the day the bookmobile was scheduled visit. Years later when my hometown rated a small branch in the Aiken-Bamberg-Barnwell-Edgefield Regional Library System (SC), I was a constant customer. In high school I was a member of the Library Club, at college I worked as a student assistant in the college library, and the summer after my sophomore year, I served as a library intern in the ABBE system. How appropriate it was one week to ride the bookmobile route as a librarian-in-training and see that same joy I’d felt years ago on the face of others.
The dictionary defines a library as a place set apart to contain books, periodicals, and other material for reading, viewing, listening, study, or reference. But it is so much more. It’s a refuge for many – a place where fears and hardships can be temporarily forgotten as well as the place where solutions can be found, where a newcomer can feel ‘at home,’ a second home to someone whose home life is unhappy. It’s a place to stay in touch with the world through newspapers and the Internet. A library can be a child’s first step towards recognizing there’s a big, big world around them, a calm place to complete an assignment, the location of a special program to enhance your life, the opportunity to see a movie when your wallet is wearing thin, an island of sanity in a crazy world.
So when you’re having one of those days when it seems you’re not making a difference and all the questions seem to be more than a little off-beat and no one seem to appreciate your efforts, remember you are part of a very vital institution of our society. As Germaine Greer said “Libraries are reservoirs of strength, grace and wit, reminders of order, calm and continuity, lakes of mental energy, neither warm nor cold, light nor dark. The pleasure they give is steady, reliable, deep and long-lasting.”