Today I spent more time at the library as I am still without Internet. It’s a huge lovely place filled with all sorts of varied and interesting people. Some just go there because it’s a comfortable space.
Many have the same idea as I do. While it is still a holy place piled with stacks of books, somehow I was struck today by how this seems an archaic use for this focal point of so many communities.
As I sat at my table grabbing wifi, instead of being surrounded by the deafening and eerie silence broken by the occasional turning of a page or a random cough, the sounds were unexpected. Instead the stale air was electrified by the beeps and musical notes of phones, the clacking of computer keyboards, games whirs and dings. I looked around only to notice the rare bookworm. Most were plugged in, headphones attached, eyes firmly peeled on their screen, tablet or phone.
Ah but the books still exist! The smell is still there. And when the quiet was broken by the rudeness of a device, I almost wished for the elderly librarian to come and shush the culprit! Just like in the days when we spoke too loudly or started to giggle. Alas those days are gone. The librarians are too busy teaching everyone how to log onto the computers there! Sigh.
But the books look on and remain tangible. No Kindle will ever take the place for me. So being among them still comforts me. And the weight of the one I checked out from the library felt good in my backpack as I walked home.