Human civilization has its upsides and its downsides. On the one hand, we've built incredible cities filled with amazing buildings where people work and play and are entertained, we have infrastructure that connects people and places, and we enjoy conveniences that previous generations could only dream about. On the other, we have environment-destroying excess and capitalistic greed pushing us toward widespread inequities and injustices.
And then we have libraries.
The public library is one of the greatest inventions humankind has ever imagined and actually made happen. Libraries are perfect in concept and exceptional in practice. The idea that we ought to plop a building full of books to borrow wherever groups of people live is beautiful in its simplicity and the fact that we've actually succeeded in doing it is somewhat miraculous. Libraries are something humans have created that has stood the test of time and that we can be truly, universally proud of. There is nothing but upside to a calm, quiet place where any and all people can hang out and read, without having to pay anyone anything.
A thread on Twitter celebrating the wonderfulness of libraries illustrates this point perfectly.
"Today a woman with developmental disabilities came into the library, and she said she was lost," wrote Twitter user @schaalfan. "She didn't know her address, but her phone number was in her pocket on a piece of paper with Elmo on it. She kept saying, 'The library is a safe place.'"
We called and her guardian came right over. Apparently this happens pretty regularly. They even stayed long enough for her to check out some new books and Sesame Street DVDs. The library is a safe place indeed.— David (@David) 1646415938
"We called and her guardian came right over," they continued. "Apparently this happens pretty regularly. They even stayed long enough for her to check out some new books and Sesame Street DVDs. The library is a safe place indeed."
Indeed. The post prompted others to share their own stories of libraries being safe places for them, and it's enough to warm even the hardest of hearts.
For people who grew up in dysfunctional homes, the library can be a safe haven of calm and kindness.
Saved me. My bro oldest of 8 watched us when Mom worked. He walked me to the library M-F. I had to stay til HE picked me up. My younger bros were allowed to run rampant. I cried. He said, ONE of us has to make it.I'm the 1st college grad in my fam. My hero died 9/2020 of COVID.pic.twitter.com/3riXw9gdkX— Dr. Dee Va, EdD (@Dr. Dee Va, EdD) 1646486604
For people with disabilities, it can be a safe place where people are patient and kind.
Oh THIS reached tight inside my book loving heart and squeezed. I grew up in a library and remember that feeling of being peacefully home. What a gift to return to. I will tell my girls. Take me to the library. Take me to the sea.pic.twitter.com/rDKy5e46B5— PattyBulgerDahlgren Vaxxed + Masked\ud83d\udc0b \ud83e\udd88 \ud83e\udd91\ud83d\udc2c (@PattyBulgerDahlgren Vaxxed + Masked\ud83d\udc0b \ud83e\udd88 \ud83e\udd91\ud83d\udc2c) 1646487462
For people lacking financial means, the library is a space that provides free education and free entertainment, as well as a free indoor place to go.
Library funding has a fantastic return on investment for a community - they fill up a lot of gaps in other social services and help people find their way to information about other opportunities. \nAnd they\u2019ve mostly avoided the stigma other public services suffer.— Erika (@Erika) 1646494845
The library was my refuge too. I was the first one in my family to go to college. I learned that books were my friends and they opened the doors to so many possibilities. One of my most treasured possessions is my library card. #LibrariesEmpower #Libraries— Intravenous Coffee (@Intravenous Coffee) 1646509090
People also celebrated librarians—the stewards of these wonderful places and the books and people who reside inside them. Librarians are right up there with teachers in the "best" category.
While the building and the books help people to see it's safer and give readers an escape, it's you and your colleagues around the world that make the Library safe.\n\nThank you all for being guardians, guides, and companions to children and adults of all ages.— Ethan Kristopher-Hartley \ud83c\udff3\ufe0f\u200d\ud83c\udf08\ud83c\uddec\ud83c\udde7\ud83c\uddea\ud83c\uddfa (@Ethan Kristopher-Hartley \ud83c\udff3\ufe0f\u200d\ud83c\udf08\ud83c\uddec\ud83c\udde7\ud83c\uddea\ud83c\uddfa) 1646468687
Libraries and librarians deserve all the love we can give them. When so much seems wrong with the world, we at least know we got this one thing right.
(And some people also threw a little love for Elmo into the thread, too, for good measure. "Sesame Street" is almost as wonderful as libraries, after all.)
My son is 24 with cognitive disabilities. Almost every day he asks if Elmo is coming over for lunch. He knows the answer, but he still has hope that one day I'll say yes.— Cheryl Boucher (@Cheryl Boucher) 1646463049
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