I spent a good portion of this past Saturday helping my wife with her small business. She is a master baker and makes a variety of Mediterranean breads and desserts. Her goodies are artisanal and high-end. She sells them each Saturday at a farmer’s market located in Boerne, Texas, a town with a large German-speaking population and a place where people have money.
About noon, Linda Plecak, a resident of Boerne and a librarian who works at the college where I teach and manage a couple of writing centers, stopped by my wife’s table. Before picking up an Italian-style lemon curd tart, a baklava, and a fateer meshaltet, the two of us spent a few minutes chatting about work and such.
During our conversation, I mentioned how much I liked the college’s library. I also told her that I had long viewed libraries as sacred places.
I remember the very first library I ever stepped foot into. There was a little one located in a building that was situated on the south side of Georgetown Primary, my first real school after kindergarten. Once or twice per week, our teachers would take us there. We were required to line up, single file, at the classroom front door and then march down a couple of long breezeways on our way to that building of books. In those days, it seemed like a long sojourn—like a bit of an adventure. We were told to walk in an orderly and quiet way. The solemnity of our excursion reinforced the notion that we were headed to a special kind of place.
In college, I began to regularly visit the library in the evenings because it was the best place to study. It was housed in a large and impressive building. I vividly recall taking breaks during my study sessions and walking slowly among the stacks. I would read the titles and authors’ names printed on the spines of all those hundreds of thousands of tomes. It was almost as if I could hear a cacophony of voices as I walked along. The voices spoke all the languages of the world. They spoke of history, literature, politics, philosophy, psychology and so on—about all the subjects under the sun.
In graduate school, on long nights of study, I would often find a quiet sofa, located in some out-of-the-way spot in one of the enormous libraries, and nap. During such slumbers, I’d often have strange and exciting dreams. I’d wake up from those rests feeling refreshed and ready to stick my nose in again—to read about, and look for, the secrets of life and wisdom.
Here are some interesting facts about libraries. They are places where the determined student can encounter an entire universe of ideas. I have made many wonderful and surprising discoveries inside of libraries. In them, I have learned innumerable things about the world and about myself. In libraries, a person can find happiness, purpose, and love. In libraries, a person can meet her past, present, and future. In libraries, a person can experience the sacred.
I’d like to hear your thoughts about libraries. Have you had a favorite one? If so, tell me about the place.
I look forward to your comments. Thanks for reading.
If you like my writing, you can find more here; although, my personal blog certainly needs to be updated.
26 thoughts on “Sacred Places”
I have the same feeling when I go into a bookstore. I love the way they smell. I love the way the book covers feel under my fingers. I have often found a book, ventured into the coffee shop if there is one — the Barnes and Noble near me provides that service — grab a coffee, a table in a corner and let a couple of hours pass by while I take a journey down the Silk Roads or perhaps or walk through a Viking settlement or perhaps put on a glorious Victorian ball gown. Endless possibilities and endless trips down barely imaged paths.
Hi. Sorry about the lateness of my response. I think we’ve had similar experiences in bookstores. Like you, I love the smell of books, especially old books in some out-0f-the-way spot in an old library. Thanks for the comment.
Thank you for sharing this, Troy. Your words are resonant with feeliing. A scene from “Dead Poet’s Society” came to my mind as I read your post. I could see Robin Williams’ character coaxing his students to lean toward the trophy case, to hear the message of past students long gone. I could imagine you, doing the same to some of your favourite books.
I don’t have a favourite library, but books have called to me; and I’ve been grateful for the knowledge that’s arrived through them.
I’ll be looking forward to your next post! By the by, your wife’s backed goods sound delicious!
Hi. Sorry about the lateness of my response. That’s a really great film, Art. It’s been a long time since I watched it. You’ve inspired me to watch it again. Thanks for the comment.
Love this post, Troy. I completely agree with you that libraries are sacred places. My 6-year-old daughter is just discovering the fun of her school library and it is so fun to drink in the sense of excitement and possibility she brings home with the books she has checked out.
Hi. Sorry about the lateness of my response. I’ve never had kids, but if I had them, I’d take them to the library on a regular basis. Sounds like you’re giving really good encouragement! Thanks for the comment.
What a great post. Libraries have long been my happy place. Who didn’t love the summer reading competitions as a child? I spent many an hour selecting books and hauling home my stash in my backpack.
Hi. Sorry about the lateness of my response. Totally agree. Can’t think of a more life-affirming place than a library. Thanks for the comment.
It’s all good 🙂
During my younger years, I often hung out at our small town library. As you’ve referred to, Troy a library contains all the knowledge of the world. One summer I thought I would gain all that knowledge by reading every book in the library. 😆 Fail. Maybe if I hadn’t started with the encyclopedias.
Hi. Sorry about the lateness of my response. Thanks for sharing your story. Well, at least your heart was in the right place!
My first grade teacher took us to the library and I got my first library card, changed my life. A sacred place indeed. I fell in love with books 📚💙
Thanks for sharing your story! You’re lucky to have had such a great teacher at such an early age!
It has been ages that I don’t go to a library! Your post Troy, reminded me how much I loved studying there. I have such beautiful memories and I made some great friends. Thank you for bringing my memories back!
Hi. Sorry about the lateness of my response. I think you should visit a library soon and just check out how you feel about the place. You’re welcome. Thanks for the comment.
As a kid I loved going to the library but it always seemed weird that it wasn’t a place to just go to. Once a week we’d get a library day. Couldn’t go there during lunch or recess, that was forbidden, and of course it closed with the end of the school day. The library wasn’t all that useful right up thru junior high.
Later in high school you spent your lunch however you wanted. After I ate, that’s where I often spent mine. But then I managed to make a couple of friends and instead I’d spend my lunch playing bridge or some other game with them. We’d moved from a rural small town to an industrial medium town with a good city library and I’d often spend weekend afternoons there.
As an adult I’ve found little time for libraries. Much too busy trying to get by and support a family but we always made sure the kids had plenty of time in them. The school library suffered from the same accessibility issues as they did when I was a kid. They didn’t want you there unless you were in a scheduled class and accompanied by a teacher, so the county branch library took up the slack.
My kids are grown and long gone. I worked as a substitute teacher for a couple of years after I retired until my pension kicked in. Elementary and middle school libraries haven’t changed a bit. Not a place to come and visit to explore. Instead, once a week you’ve got 45 minutes to turn in your last book and check out your next one. Part of that was the librarian reading a story, so not a lot of browse time.
You were limited in which book you check out by what the reading level of the book is. The teacher kept a tally and you couldn’t go too far above or below your grade level or it didn’t “count.” (I remember more than a couple of days where I spent hours affixing color coded dots to books to indicate their reading level.) At least when I was a child I didn’t have that particular restriction. It was fairly regimented in the 60s and even more regimented today.
For most younger kids, library time was a mini-vacation from being taught and a not a place to explore.
The smell of a library or used books store are on my list of favorite things. Don’t have a favorite, love them all but the state archives takes my breath away.
I haven’t really visited library in a long time, though I visit bookstores often. In fact, whenever I go to the mall, it’s one of three stores go there for. I like being in an environment where I get to see and meet others who don’t always stuff their faces into phone screens all the time. There’s something pleasant, calm, and peaceful being surrounded by books, even though being in the mall, it means it’s not as quiet as libraries
Sometimes I just go there and find books that are occasionally already unwrapped, and I settle down to read a few first pages. If it interests me, I buy it. In a way, bookstores are somewhat of a substitute library for me. The downside is that I can’t work there
While I enjoy books and having physical copies, I feel like the need to go digital is pretty much necessary. To spare trees and environment, y’see…
Libraries are always sacred to me.
I like libraries and do go down to one nearby, but I don’t like sitting there to read. Strangely, I like book shops more! I walk down the rows of books and at times spend a lot of time reading bits of a book before I finally buy one or two!
I can so relate to this, something similar I penned in my last blog. Time and place do have memories ❤❤ thank you for sharing
I feel this way about bookshops as well
I just visited a Library a few days ago and I read a book titled “Electronic Media Management” written by William McCavitt and I enjoyed reading a couple of pages.
I love libraries too Troy!!! Its the right place for learning interesting facts either about music, the TV business, poetry, law, math or science stuff..
Encouraging blog as well
I love libraries. Wherever I go, I look for a local library. They offer a lot of resources and programs. Since a majority of it is free, it’s our privilege and responsibility to utilize them. After all, underutilized places are usually on the chopping block for defunding and closures. If you use them regularly and actual calculate the value of the items you borrow, you’d be surprised how much money libraries save us.
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Your experience is very knowledgeable and heart touching.
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