A spider ran down my back at the library yesterday when I looked at the "new books" table and a glossy fat book looked back at me. I disturbed the peace with "Hal Duncan's Vellum!"
I love spiders, Vellum, and libraries — and ever since our local country library hasn't had to use up virtually all its budget to pay for bricks and architects , the book selection has become a delight and constant surprise. Our library system is so popular that there are crowds waiting for the doors to open, at every branch. The librarians keep us country folk abreast of what's being written around the world in the way of fiction; and as for non-fiction, recent acquisitions span everything from a large section on religions and sects, to fetish clothing and fetish wheels, to the latest books from whistleblowers in many administrations.
Today privatisation has taken over the international mindset more than is noted. Music for oneself (though others hear whether they want to or not), single-serve food in heavy metal tins that take longer to open than the insides do to eat, screens that command our singular attention. As a package for cookies made in Australia says, "You don't have to share us with anyone else."
A library is such an anachronism, such a precious holdover that I'm surprised that they all haven't disappeared (though they have been degraded in many places). I love sharing books. I love the look of a book that is well read, and that doesn't mean a book that is chart-popular.
They stand for human rights and knowledge and dissemination of ideas, without censorship. They stand for an equal playing field, not trickle-down chances. They have been the making of countless people who have taken what they learned from library resources and built something new — be it a "new" language in a "new" land, or something you can touch or an idea that touches you. And importantly, private dignity is respected and a person's intelligence is assumed rather than discounted.
One day I was just leaving when an older couple came in and stood just inside the front door. He turned to her and said, "How do you spell prostate?"