Libraries – read, dream and become

By Nicosia Smith

For some it is their favorite place, where words and images spring off sheets of paper and tug at the heart.

Inspiring and giving reasons to change.

It is where the international and local meet and communities are invited to join in.

And kids can dream.

There are very few places where you can get this escapism for free. But I am grateful for this mostly publicly funded oasis – the library.

I have personally discovered societies the world over through the library. Even though, television has played its part in my discoveries.

But at the library I could feel and touch a book. There, I am much closer to Europe, Africa and North America. And I love it.

At  the Library I dreamt about the places I would visit, before stepping unto dusty and unpaved streets in my small town.

The Public Library – A Photographic Essay,” by Robert Dawson published in April brought back all my early library memories.

This book tells the importance of libraries across America, from the smallest to the largest of them. It took 18 years to complete and involves Dawson’s, immediate family, that is, his wife and son. So in the rare book room of the Strand Bookstore on 12th Street, I listen to Dawson tell the back-story behind his book.

I wanted very much to know what was new on the public library scene. And more importantly the similarities and differences of the library experience.

“We have a lot that we share…that was one of the surprising things,” Dawson said he found. And I agreed when he said that libraries were more about communities and less about the books themselves. But he also warned that it is not to be taken for granted, because there are no guarantees we can keep the current library structure.

In this technological age, it is places like the library that one can still go for a human touch.

That is, speaking to a librarian or an assistant and most of all, engaging with another mind. In contrast, different from having our fingers clued on our cell-phones with our eyes firmly fixed in the same direction.

I hope that libraries remain for a long time, to remind us why meeting, reading and conversing is so important.