In which I receive the gift of an entire library.

My youngest brother Jared has many talents, which include rocking his graduate coursework in applied linguistics, coaching runners, making tasty curry dishes from scratch, and living life as a hard-working, motivated, responsible member of the Millennial generation.* But perhaps my favorite of his qualities is his skill at, and penchant for, drawing imaginary cityscapes in his limited spare time.

He began a new creative project over the holidays and asked me if I’d like my own house in his latest utopia. “Yes, please,” I replied, “And may I have some trees in my yard? And could it be not too close to other houses, but still within easy walking distance of the library and other community spaces?” He promised me it would be, and when he finished, this was the result:

cityscape with arrows
Artwork by my brother Jared. (Arrows added by me.) Shared without asking permission first, because I’m the eldest sibling so I can do things like that. Bossy Big Sister Privilege is a little-known provision of copyright law, as long as you’re sure no one will mind.

The downward arrow points to my cozy house among a delightful copse of deciduous trees.
The rightward arrow points to the library of which I am now mistress. I adore it’s resemblance to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre while being thankful that it’s better protected from the elements. I’m delighted to see a free, public library in the midst of a city that looks so Renaissance-era European (where libraries were generally found at universities or abbeys, but not widely accessible to the general public… and almost never to women who weren’t among the clergy or nobility.)

I firmly believe that a library should be more than just an edifice full of books, and that a librarian’s mission reaches far beyond mere caretaking of printed artifacts. That being said, I’m inordinately charmed by the library building my brother drew for me. I confess that I do imagine it full of rare volumes and new publications, as well as spaces for learning, collaboration, and creativity.

As mistress of this city library, I don’t see myself remaining always within it’s physical confines, but happily venturing out into the community and becoming a person who improves society by facilitating knowledge creation with individuals, groups, and organizations. In the interest of accessibility, I may also advocate for more localized library services and spaces – perhaps a new branch? – for the citizens who live and work across the river. Mobilizing a corps of roving librarians to serve the homebound and residents of outlying areas is also part of my daydream.

What does this flight of fancy have to do with modern-day librarianship in the real world? Only that it’s important (as librarians, librarians-in-training, library staff, and/or library members) as often as we can, and by whatever means necessary, to widen our view beyond a specific library building, to see our larger community with fresh eyes, and to consider how we can serve it better. An imaginary library in an imaginary city can also be a visual reminder to share our mission with others and to discover the interests and talents that community members may wish to share enthusiastically with us.

* I often read and hear criticism of Millennials for being lazy and entitled. While I don’t doubt that this has been some people’s experience with the younger generation, I’m very fortunate that the Millennials I know are focused, productive, thoughtful, and generally society-improving people.

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11 thoughts on “In which I receive the gift of an entire library.

  1. CarolK January 30, 2016 / 1:59 pm

    What a talented, loving brother. Love your home and library.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Library Heather January 30, 2016 / 2:17 pm

      I’m very fortunate in all of my siblings. They’re clever, creative, have a variety of interesting careers and hobbies, and are easy to love.

      Like

  2. A. Marie January 30, 2016 / 5:30 pm

    Three hearty huzzahs for Jaredtopia! Beautiful!

    And if all the available real estate isn’t already snapped up, could I have a small parcel with space for gardening, well away from the local deer park? I promise to do a presentation at your library–“Creative Ways to Deal with Wildlife in the Garden Without Getting Arrested for Poaching,” or something like that.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Library Heather January 31, 2016 / 12:15 pm

      Oh, that’s a beautiful puzzle. Although I’m a vocal proponent and student of New Librarianship, I will still always love books and library buildings. It’s just that the former will be the main focus of my new career and the latter will occupy my leisure time. I have a whole Pinterest board full of “Library Porn” (i.e. pictures of the most gorgeous book-lined shelves and reading spaces. No actual pornography.) at https://www.pinterest.com/heatherelia/library-porn/. I think the picture on that puzzle may belong there.

      Like

  3. uppervalleygirl January 31, 2016 / 2:30 pm

    I love that there are actual books in yours. In academia I see fewer and fewer. Love books. And that your bro does this; I strongly believe in the power of thought and what the world needs now is…positive thinking!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. educationalmentorship January 31, 2016 / 3:20 pm

    Love the picture. I’m lucky enough to be the mistress of an actual library created by my husband. It’s a “little library”, a big cupboard on a pole outside our house which we stock regularly with books for the children (and adults) in our small town. We don’t have a library proper aside from the school library, and ours gets used a lot by kids on their way home from school who are looking for different things to read. We also get a lot of donations from the people in our town, so it’s pretty self-sustaining!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. tcheer4life January 31, 2016 / 8:57 pm

    What a wonderful realm by, obviously, a wonderful sibling. (I well understand the powers and whims of being the eldest.) I especially admire the pride and love evident in “the top of the ladder” for one on a lower rung.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Christopher February 1, 2016 / 10:21 am

    I want to visit that place–not just the library but all of it. Although I am a little worried about the library being too close to the river. Even though libraries should be dynamic and not just big buildings full of books part of their mission is preservation and, well, I’ve known of a few flooding incidents.
    But then I’ve also seen how those incidents remind communities of the value of libraries, and they’ve brought people together to rescue, rebuild, and even create new libraries.

    Liked by 1 person

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