Monday, January 30, 2012

3 Reasons I Love My Local Public Library

1. The VHS selection in the Children's Area.  Perusing the shelves in the Children's Video section of the Tipp City Library is like time-traveling to my own childhood. Today, I came home with a fistful of old videos. The clear, plastic cases are scratched to a dull grey with hand written dewey letters and numbers on the beaten spines. I marked several for-later-rental, Mighty Ducks, Ninja Turtles, and some Shirley Temple numbers to name a few. Today's take-home winners were: Pollyanna, Angels in the Outfield, and a Huff Family favorite: Sarah Plain and Tall

If you aren't familiar with the latter, you should be schooled. The film is based on Patricia Maclachlan's Newberry and Scott O'Dell award-winning children's novel of the same name. It is about a woman from Maine who moves out west to become a companion to a lonely widower and his two children. Made for television by the Hallmark Hall of Fame, the movie features a young Christopher Walken as a soft-spoken, heart-broken farmer and Glenn Close as Sarah, an independent (and plucky!) romantic with a penchant for poetic descriptions of daily life. This was my introduction to both actors, so you might imagine my surprise when I found out Christopher Walken was not usually cast as a kind, quiet, rural gentleman. In my heart, he's still just a sweet lil' leading man.

Images of Walken and Close in "Sarah Plain & Tall"
2. You can sit and read for free without ever buying a cup of coffee.  I like a coffee shop as much as the next girl, maybe more. But I'm a thrifty booger that hates to spend money on things she can easily make at home. Still there is one thing that you get at a coffee shop for which there is no homemade facsimile: a sense of community. Even if you don't speak a word except to order a cuppa-jo, there's a homey togetherness feeling to a good coffee shop. An ambiance that makes the overcharged bean juice worthwhile. Except, that you can get all that for free in a good library. Big picture windows, rocking chairs and couches, surrounded by words penned over hundreds of years of human thought. The perfect place to finger through magazines to which you can't afford subscriptions.  

3. All are welcome. Men and women old and young all frequent the library. And, yes, maybe the purpose of the facility has changed. Mainly, there is less book reading and more movie rental. But the institution remains important to the area. It is a place to receive information about taxes, local history, and it is a public space- often, the only one with a free gathering place. Today, as I finished a book on a couch in the front of the Tipp Public Library, I witnessed: elderly men and women chatting over the contents of their reading list, a quilting group, teenagers flipping through periodicals, and a clutch of pre-teen boys sneaking snacks out of crinkly brown paper bags. There's something beautifully old-fashioned about a Library, I hope that others see their charm and importance as I do. I would hate to see them stage out of our societies with the influx of a more digital world. 

On a side note. When I left the library this afternoon, I found a slip of paper folded over and wedged in my car's driver's side window. I had a note written in slanting cursive. It reads:
1-30-12, 3PM
Hello. What year is your Saturn? Does it burn oil? Mine is a 2000 SL2. It burns oil!! 
         Phyllis   (She signed her full name and gave her phone number.)
Though the note is charming -in a small town way that would have been creepy in a big city- I am not sure what to do with it. Should I call this stranger and exchange notes on our oil leakage? My car does, in fact, leak quite a bit but there's nothing to be done about it at this stage in its life. Do I call and tell her that? 

I imagine this sweet, old woman who saw my car thought that, if I had been in ear shot, the coincidence of our similar vehicles would have lead to a nice conversation. Probably, she is in need of a conversation today and I understand that sentiment. I can truly empathize. I have said only a few words out loud today. Most of them were to myself. These past few months living on my own have helped me gain quite a bit of insight into the solitary life. I'm surrounded by friends for a good portion of my week, so this isn't a call out for sympathy, just an acknowledgement of God teaching me new lessons daily. 

Little shared moments mean so much to so many. I am so grateful for the multitude of friendships I have. I am blessed to be a part of a large community, but not everyone is so surrounded by relationship. As I walk my day through and entwine with other lives on the way, it is important that I make every interaction, with strangers and friends alike, one that communicates respect and love and inclusion.

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