Friday, December 17, 2004


I returned the stack of books to the university library today. I meant to put them in the slot and leave, but I wanted to find In my solitary life by Augustus Hare, cited by Katharine Briggs in the collection I just perused. Hare is the source of the story "The dream house" in which a woman dreams every night of a wonderful house, then years later buys that house for a low amount. When she asks the estate agent why it was so inexpensive, he explains that there was a ghost in the house, so nobody could stand to live there. "But madame, you have nothing to fear. You are that ghost." (Paraphrased, of course.)

Once I found Hare's book, I happened to find myself in the folklore section (GR in the LC system, 398.2 in Dewey). Ahem. I dragged home a pile of books, including a French one written in 1950 about etiquette around the world (Savoir Vivre International), a collection of West African trickster tales and some stories from Brittany.

I have friends who don't use the library. Maybe they don't feel like it, maybe they don't remember to take the books back on time (I renew online), maybe they like to own the books, maybe everything they want is on the Internet, maybe they aren't comfortable with the homeless in the library, maybe they've forgotten how to use the library and are not confident asking. I know that one--I didn't read any of my reserve readings in college for the first year and a half, until I found the courage to request them. Once I got over that, I never again hesitated to ask for help in the library.

I love libraries. Did I already mention that? I use the public library, the university library, and sometimes the suburban system about 35 minutes away. When I leave with my arms full, I feel rich. There's so much possibility in the library: books of stories, novels both fluffy and serious, self-help, cartoons, essays, movies, CDs, books on tape. Learn to fix a faucet, knit, design a brochure, identify the stars. Read about Tibetan Buddhism, ventriloquism, hooliganism. It's all there--and if it isn't and I want it, I request it on interlibrary loan. Libraries were made for dilettantes like me.


Anonymous said...

Speaking of libraries, I've discovered that the public library in my home town often does not get copies of current bestsellers (or anything else for that matter) due to lack of funds. So, if you break down and buy that book you're just dying to read, and then you'd like to share it with others, check with your local library to see if you can donate it.

Anonymous said...

I am SO glad that you frequent your local library. It is a place of solace and wonderful delight, yes?
Kathleen G.

PriscillaHowe said...

Yes, indeedy! If they ever have to institutionalize me, I hope the institution is the library!