Anyone remember that jingle? It’s from so long ago I can’t even say when. I’ve always been a big fan of libraries, especially the New York Public Library, my hometown system. Never as much as now, however. Because of construction in the apartment above me, I’ve been forced to flee and find other places to write. That’s how I discovered Malcolm Gladwell’s café (no, he doesn’t own it, he just writes there) and some other fine spots around the city; but by far the best is the DeWitt Wallace Periodical Room at the 42nd Street Library. The building where the reservoir used to be (there, a fact for free) with the lions, Patience and Fortitude, flanking the steps outside. You sit here surrounded by other hard-working people — some of them actually reading periodicals — and by carved moldings, high windows, and frescoes of NYC buildings, with faux-marble frames. What writer couldn’t get something done here?
carved ceiling 30 feet above our heads
high window and hard-working people
fresco with faux-marble frame
One of the most beautiful and exciting places in the world!
Here’s a tribute to the folks that staff your lovely libraries
IF LIBRARIANS WERE HONEST“
…a book indeed sometimes debauched me from my work…”
If librarians were honest,
they wouldn’t smile, or act
welcoming. They would say,
You need to be careful. Here
be monsters. They would say,
These rooms house heathens and heretics, murderers and maniacs, the deluded, desperate, and dissolute. They would say,
These books contain knowledge of death, desire, and decay, betrayal, blood, and more blood; each is a Pandora’s box, so why would you want to open one.
They would post danger
signs warning that contact
might result in mood swings,
severe changes in vision,
and mind-altering effects.
If librarians were honest
they would admit the stacks
can be more seductive and
shocking than porn. After all,
once you’ve seen a few
breasts, vaginas, and penises,
more is simply more,
a comforting banality,
but the shelves of a library
contain sensational novelties,
a scandalous, permissive mingling
of Malcolm X, Marx, Melville,
Merwin, Millay, Milton, Morrison,
and anyone can check them out,
taking them home or to some corner
where they can be debauched
and impregnated with ideas.
If librarians were honest,
they would say,
No one spends time here without being
changed. Maybe you should
go home. While you still can.
Marge, that’s a great tribute to librarians. Did you write it? And if so, can I use it for my next Friends of the Library newsletter? Or would you tell me who to attribute it to? Thanks so much – it made me smile and nod my head a lot!!
One of my favorite rooms on the planet. If I were to live in L.A. for any time at all, it would be one of my top choices to work in.
Ooops . . . freudian slip there . . . I do live in L.A. . . . obviously meant NY. The great library reading rooms in L.A. are a bit too far from home for me to access regularly. At least until spring, when the subway may open up that possibility for more frequent enjoyment.