I’ve been thinking a lot about how a library and a church fill so many of the same roles. Both are places people go for refuge and silence. A quiet place in a noisy world. They both offer consolations and hope for a better life. A library and a church both have people whose work is to offer guidance and help in finding a way to accomplish that.
Both a library and a church offer deep meanings to be discovered. They both offer the prospect of uncovering great rewards of knowledge and redemption after a bit of effort through learning. They both offer lasting joys that might change one's life and mind.
And they’re both run as community resources, usually hard pressed for every dollar spent.
I’m lucky that my library actually looks like a beautiful church - so needless to say it’s my favorite building to visit on a bike ride. Sometimes I go past on Sundays when unlike the church, it is totally closed. But I still like sitting beside it’s gothic arches to soak in the sense of peace and stability it offers. And when it’s open, even a simple walk up it’s curving granite staircase can feel like an edifying experience.
I think libraries ought to deserve the same tax exempt status that churches enjoy… especially in this day and age when it’s the library and librarian who have to offer the final safety net to homeless populations who have slipped through every other safety net.
So that’s that’s how I feel about my library. And beyond all that, sometimes I just like being around lots and lots of books. It is a heady, reassuring experience. In this age of vanishing books, it is wonderful to just have a lot of books that exist on the shelves, just being there. Real books... not virtual books.