The bonus of having a broken computer and needing to stop at libraries for internet service is that I get to meet more nice librarians and see some beautiful, old library architecture.
As I made my way from Philly to Chicago I stopped at two different libraries to get some drafting done en route. Both in small towns, each of them warm and welcoming. Shelves to the ceiling, heavy with books, offset by large windows letting in plenty of sunshine. Patrons sitting quietly in their chairs and carrels, slyly watching this stranger settle in amongst them.
I’d forgotten that I used to do this just for a driving break. There is a moment I like, after I get set at a desk and sign on to the system, when I can look around me at what life is like in that particular library. I listen to fingers tapping on keyboards, pages turning softly, kids talking in their loud whispers, the occasional sneeze and cough. Libraries have their own special culture that sets them apart from most every other public venue.
How many other common places require such a unique mutual respect for those people set about the task of knowing and learning?