Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Stacks


Library.  I'll bet if you asked the average earbud-wearing youth if they've every been to a library, they'd be all, "Wait, what?  Yeah, no." because that's how people talk now.  "Yeah. No."?  Which is it? 

Say that word to me, slap on a blood pressure cuff, and you will see my numbers drop to double digits. First word that comes to mind?  Quiet.  As in "peace and --."  No overheard one-sided phone conversations: "No. Yeah.  I'll be over later.  I'm in the lie-berry right now.  Huh?  I dunno.  Some place with half-asleep glasses-wearing people in it."

Next word:  Musty.  Now, generally I'm not pro-musty.  Musty is no good for closets, but that's what libraries have going for them.  That smell, my friends, is knowledge.  That smell is leaving the present for another world created solely in your mind by another person's words.  That smell is literature.

There's the quiet again but there's also a special mothership kind of humming, a creaking of bindings unhinging, maybe for the first time in decades.  The protective plastic cover rustling, edges a little scratchy in your palm.  Your breath whistling through your nose and the shuffle of your soles on the flat dull carpet.

And the sights.  There's something for your sense of sight, too.  Tall, thin volumes; short, compact, purse-sized books, embossed gold narrow Times Roman titles, cover art that lets you know the contents are good, like a really cool wine bottle label. 

I think I'll let your sense of taste just…be.  It really doesn't come into play at a library.  What you do there is your business.  Just don't let the library staff catch you.

8 comments:

  1. My mom took us to the library every week, where I picked up the bad habit of reading grown up novels too young. You perfectly capture here the physical attunement some of us experience in the stacks. Thanks!

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    1. Thanks for reading my post, Carol. I knew there were other library lovers out there!

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  3. You actually had to go somewhere to get entertainment content? Wow, things really were crazy with you olds.

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    1. Not only that, RH, it could take half a day in my daddy's mule-drawn wagon to get to the book place.

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  5. I love this piece, Jeanette. I especially like the line, "That smell is literature." Great!

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