Libraries are truly hallowed places! Sacred houses of great minds! I have spent so many hours waiting in libraries in a number of locations. I may have been waiting for classes to begin, work shifts to change or even waiting on someone. Here, I feature only five libraries from a very long list because if I wrote all of my memories from special libraries, this post would never end!
I used to drive my mother to teach her evening literature class at Prairie State College in Chicago Heights, Illinois. I would climb the stairs of the old library and wait for her to finish her day. There, I wrote and wrote and wrote and thus, my first novella in a set of seven was born. It is now published and titled A Golden Leaf in Time Revised! There is a newer version of the library but the old spaces remain etched in my memory.
I also waited in the stacks when I worked as a PT librarian at Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tennessee. I am quite certain that I journaled and wrote but I distinctly remember perusing the works of Thich Nhat Hanh. His writings just seemed to fall into my lap and I was in for a real treat as I read to Breathe! You Are Alive! along with his many other works.
I recall sitting in a quiet spot, in a small cubicle with a window view at the Henry T. Sampson Library at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi. Of course, I had to wait for some evening class to start and I do remember browsing a copy of The Chronicle of Higher Education along with other scholarly publications that were lined along the wall.
And then, there was the old Main Library in Downtown Chicago on Michigan Avenue which is now called the Chicago Cultural Center. It was beautiful, warm and welcoming with its long, winding staircases. But the book volumes outgrew those spaces and over time, the current Harold Washington Library was built on State Street. It has a different feel to it yet it is still filled to the brim with patrons. Its long, heavy wooden tables are truly any writer’s dream desk!
I will close with sharing precious memories of time spent in Boston Public Library’s Main Branch on Boylston Street, the country’s first free municipal library. I lived close by and walked there regularly. The library has so much character and each department is comparable to getting to know a lot of different people.
Each nook and cranny probably has its own stories. Sometimes, it felt as if the great writers from the lined shelves were whispering and saying, “Try me!” I heard some of them and picked up books such as Nina Simone’s I Put a Spell on You and the little-known younger Bronte sister, Anne’s books. I read all of her books and I felt as if I was watching her Mr. Huntington in action!
I could go on and on about the libraries that I have known and adored. They are one of the few places that all can enter for free and still leave with both fulfillment and an arm load of books and other materials. They are truly sainted places and spaces even if they have been altered, renovated and changed from the way we remember them. It makes me think of the Beatles’ In My Life. Push play and enjoy!
August 7, 2021