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For the Love of a Library
This week is Banned Books week and, as a country, we're all supposed to be discussing what fate befalls a culture when books are destroyed or banned. I'm as afraid of ignorance and hate as the next guy, and so apparently is Ray Bradbury who (along with his camera-loving kitty ) made this short film for the National Endowment for the Arts about book burning...supposedly. What really comes across is why we all should love libraries. "All the people are waiting for me," Bradbury says, about his excitement upon entering one and how he thinks of books as friends. "Libraries are people."
Sadly, I know what awaits me at my local branch—little kids running wild as their babysitters chat and a long row of computers where people put together resumes. Our local library has become part-daycare facility and part employment center—and looks like an IRS office, minus the charm. The trainings and child-friendly crafts classes are much needed by the community, but listening to Bradbury talk I had such a longing for the library of my youth—filled with big globes and polished wood and, in the children's section, a goldfish pond with a mural of Alice in Wonderland.
"You go into the library and discover yourself," Bradbury says. Considering the pace and demands of this life, it would behoove us all to venture over to the downtown of our towns and visit the main branch where books rule the day and the librarians still "hush." I keep thinking that a massage by a professional (instead of me rubbing my own neck) or an appointment with a therapist (instead of a rambling rant to my ceiling before bed) will help me discover something, but perhaps I need a few hours with a different kind of person—like Anna Karenina or Billy Budd or even Ray Bradbury, as since as he claims, one of characters in the novel Fahrenheit 451 is, in fact, Ray Bradbury.
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