Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Library

In the past year I've been going to the local library a lot, at least once a week to check out books and dvds. I sort of re-discovered my love of reading...I've always had at least one book going since I was a kid, but lately I've been devouring them, maybe one a week or every two weeks. I've gone through all my favorite authors like Dean Koontz, who writes riveting horror novels, and Arthur C. Clarke the renowned science fiction author, who wrote 'hard science'...and a few others I've discovered, like Ken Follett and John Grisham.
Recently as I was checking out the latest books, I noticed a sign-up sheet at the front desk,
We need library volunteers! We're moving to our new location and need help with:
Help in the Computer Lab
Help moving
So almost as an impulse, I signed up. A couple weeks later, I got a call to come in, and before I knew it I was pushing a cart of library books up and down the aisles re-shelving books! And the funny thing is, I enjoyed it...what seemed to be an otherwise tedious task, I found myself relishing the experience. Then I realized it was the books.
Each and every one of them, no matter what the subject or who the author was a labor of love. Someone poured part of their soul into each one of those books, whether it was an obscure writer who had only one book published their entire life, or a literary 'megastar' whose name is larger than the book title. And there's a certain energy that emanates from each one. I got that...I can even feel it sometimes.
As I go from row to row, I see titles that I recognize. I spotted Jules Verne, who wrote "Journey to the Center of the Earth" back in 1885, the first book I ever read when I was a kid, which got me started on my love of books and stories. I also spotted "The Fountainhead" by Ayn Rand, and thought of the band Rush, their '2112' album, Neil Peart wrote the lyrics and thanked her for the inspiration on the liner notes. I was so impressed at the time that I read the book! How many hard rock albums inspire teenage guys to read classic literature? And there's the biographies, an entire wall of them, everyone from Mother Teresa to Michael Jackson.
The library is also a great place to people watch. I see many 'regulars' guy comes in every day and sits at the same table and reads, for hours...another comes in and reads every single newspaper from all over California...every day. Many elderly folks come in, who are well aquainted with the library staff, and there's book clubs and movie nights, and Bingo nights! I even helped out with one of those. It's quite a social magnet that I never really gave much thought to. And they all have one thing in common, their love of books. Even when scanning the books in the back room, I notice the other scanners pausing to look at one, then opening it and reading some of it, and I do the same thing... One day while shelving I came across a girl seated on the floor, engrossed in a book she'd found, I gingerly stepped around her as I didn't want to disturb her reading, that's when I realized there's a reverence to the place, not so much like in a church, but a place having a certain peace. I like being in there...
One time I saw this dude who was an obvious gangbanger type, wandering around in that apeish way, "What's he doing here?" I thought, "can this guy even read?" Then he called over two young kids, either his younger siblings, or even his kids! He sat down with them in the Children's Area and began to read to them...he was an excellent reader and the kids were riveted. He even had different voices for the characters and he would pause to show them the pictures, the guy was awesome!
Just goes to show you can't judge a book by its cover.

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