Voyage through Time

“Books permit us to voyage through time, to tap the wisdom of our ancestors. The library connects us with the insight and knowledge, painfully extracted from Nature, of the greatest minds that ever were, with the best teachers, drawn from the entire planet and from all our history, to instruct us without tiring, and to inspire us to make our own contribution to the collective knowledge of the human species. I think the health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries.” 

Carl Sagan, Cosmos

 

“Congratulations on the new library, because it isn't just a library. It is a space ship that will take you to the farthest reaches of the Universe, a time machine that will take you to the far past and the far future, a teacher that knows more than any human being, a friend that will amuse you and console you -- and most of all, a gateway, to a better and happier and more useful life."

Isaac Assimov

 

This fascination with libraries started with storytime and Nancy Drew mysteries, the smell of paper and the thud of a rubber date stamp hitting the hardback cover of a worn linen bound book, and the accountability to return it on time.  The escape of a story so richly told that the moment you set it aside you pick up the next.  I learned this from my mother who has had a voracious appetite for books all her life.  I remember returning from high school to find her sitting in the rocking chair of our living room racing to finish a chapter so that the pre-Dad's- arrival-home-from-work ritual could commence.  Later, there were the stacks of my college library where I would sit until Julia would find me in the wee hours of the morning and we would drive to one of the few spots open 24 hours and have endless mugs of coffee while solving the world's problems.  There is a sincere appreciation of the hallowed beauty of the New York Public Library or the UCLA campus library.  The palpable disappointment of the Los Angeles Library when it doesn't measure up to the striking architecture of that beautiful downtown part of the city and the quirky fun of the movie Party Girl and Parker Posey poking fun at the Dewey decimal system.  In more recent years, as we transitioned from home to home to home, there was the comfort of the tranquil solitude of the Laguna and Newport Libraries.  By any measure, I appreciate libraries, the beauty of them and the access they provide to worlds outside my doorstep.  Now, as access to the internet of things lull us into believing that which isn't true, I realize the physicality of a book exudes confidence.  A book is something in which to believe.