When I think of what a library is to me, my first thought is that it’s a collection of books available for reference or loan.
A basic, visual definition, and a poor one at that. Present-day libraries offer so much more than books.
A library is a collection of materials containing facts, thoughts, ideas or fiction that stimulate or rest the mind, offered to all without exchange, only the promise of return, so another can be touched by the adventure of discovery.
Still not a complete definition, as I have given no mention to the programming offered, but it is the books on the shelves that drive me personally into a library.
Life is hard. Often complicated and confusing. At times, overwhelming. A library is an oasis. A refuge. An escape. A friend. A seemingly endless offering of knowledge and fantasy and company.
Perhaps it is best described as a priceless gift.
Reading has always been an integral brick in the foundation of my life. Fiction, mostly, as I think the truth is often best learned through imagination and story. My truth, I mean. For many, not easily do we consciously reflect on ourselves. But ourselves reflected in part in a character, all of sudden it doesn’t feel so hard or so strange or even so lonely in our individual quests to understand who we are (to be fair to ourselves, an author typically spends years honing their characters. If we gave as much attention to ourselves, perhaps we would have the same success as a fictional character. But I digress).
Sometimes when I walk into a library, I don’t need to open a book to gain what I had come for. The visual stimulation of seeing thousands of books on shelves is enough to be reminded of possibility. And of hope.
Step into a library. Define it for yourself. Whatever it is to you, I would bet your definition reads as a gift.