Love your library
By: Tammy Francois, Lake County News Chronicle
I remember the day I went to the Woodland Branch Public Library in Duluth and got my first library card. I was 6 years old. I was so excited by the idea that I could take out any book I wanted. I still get that feeling. To me it’s a little like having a winning lottery ticket and trying to decide how to spend the money. There are so many possibilities.
About 10 years ago, I took out all the books I could find about the mob — FBI accounts, biographies and autobiographies of mobsters. Perhaps I had seen one too many Robert DeNiro movies, but I was fascinated.
Another year I took an interest in international cuisines and brought home stacks of cookbooks. My family, usually patient with my culinary sojourns, drew the line when I announced that I had almost bought a calf’s head at a Bosnian market on a trip to the Twin Cities. I argued that the best way to learn about a culture is through its food. They seemed to think that they could learn about Bosnia some other way.
The point is that books, whether they’re audio books, e-books or magazines, open the world to us. They broaden our perspectives and guide our understanding of people, places and ideas.
Ray Bradbury, the author of numerous well-known classics such as “Fahrenheit 451” and “The Illustrated Man,” once said that the library raised him. He grew up during the Depression when food, jobs and comfort were scarce, but he had a library card that took him places he couldn’t otherwise have gone.
Technology is changing the way we gather information and what we expect from libraries. But libraries remain places where limits on access to controversial ideas and censorship have been resisted, and where the First Amendment rights of authors and patrons have been vociferously defended. Libraries are, at once, places of exploration and wonder and of political and social activism, even if quietly so.
It seems a shame that funding for libraries should ever be at risk and it’s commendable that the cities of Silver Bay and Two Harbors, in conjunction with Lake County, have seen fit to share the costs of some of the renovations necessary at their libraries, but more funding is needed.
Through our libraries, we make a richer life possible for everyone. A library card is a ticket to adventure and knowledge that everyone can afford, because it’s free.
In words of Andrew Carnegie, the 19th century industrialist who donated more than $40 million to build 1,679 libraries across the U.S. (including in Two Harbors): “A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never failing spring in the desert.”
It’s February, Lake County — a time when we celebrate the things of the heart. Why not consider attending the Love your Library event in Two Harbors on Feb. 16? Entertainment and delicious desserts will be provided, and the shelves hold a free ticket to anything you can imagine. All you need to bring is the love.