Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Libraries quietly give us what we need, love

A woman who lost 60 pounds, without joining a weight loss program or a gym, was on a television show and said the secret to her succes was in her pocket. She whipped out a library card.

Yes, the woman had been devouring library books. Low calorie, low fat and rich in fiber. Well, not really.
She had been devouring books to educate herself on nutrition and exercise, developed her own plan for weight loss, and put it to work.

There's not much you can't learn at the library - includeing the follies of writing sentences with doulbe negatives.

To quote Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who is at the library at this very moment, " how do I love thee? Let me count the ways."

I love libraries because they have summer reading programs, and summer reading programs keep mothers sane. Kids who are reading books are kids who are not yelling, bouncing off the walls or corralling worms in your Tupperware.

I love libraries because their late fees are reasonable, none of the 28% business the credit card companies charge.

I love libraries because they promote social networking. You can meet explorers, artists, musicians, politicians, theologians, talking dogs and singing frogs at the library.

I love libraries because they don't play games with frequent flier miles. Simply open a book and you can travel to France, Italy, the Arctic or the Outback. The air fare is free and there's no baggage fee.

A library is the only business model that lets you smaple before you buy. If you suggest that the grocry store let you load up a cart, take it all home and return what's left a month later, they'll call security. Only a library lets you take home the goods and fully enjoy them.

I love libraries because they are the last remaining institution able to sustain the reverential hush. The reverential hush has all but disappeared from the movie theathers and concert halls. You can still find it in some churches, but even many of thse have been overcome by the Casual Friday mentality.

How do libraries still maintain the hush?

With the look - chin up, eyes narrowed jaw set. Mastering the look is a prerequisite to a library science degree, along with a commitment to simple hairstyles. Libraries are also able to enforce the hush because word among the stacks is that all those demure librarians have Tasers beneath the checkout counters.

One belly laugh, one cell phone call and - ZAP!

Now is a good time to express your appreciation for libraries and librarians who run them. How, you ask? Quietly. Very, very quietly.

By Lori Borgman
McClatchy News Service
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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