I had to do something last weekend for a Government paper that I hadn't done in years...I actually set foot in a library. I felt like an idiot because I actually had to remind myself of how the library worked (plus, I was at the Main Street Library and I'm not at all familiar with that one). Seriously folks, I actually had to remind myself of the different sections of a library and the fact that I needed to look the call number up...it actually took me a few minutes to remember the term "call number." I needed to listen to that dang Dewey Decimal rap the kids keep playing on youtube (Disclaimer: this WILL get stuck in your head, and you will sound like an idiot going around rapping about the library).
I felt guilty...like I had abandoned a friend and then run into them again on the street. Or maybe, more accurately, like I had abandoned them and then had to call them because I needed something.
Anyway, once I re acclimated myself to my surroundings I made my way to the reference area and remembered what it felt like to do real research...with books. I really do think the internet has spoiled us. The place was crawling with people because they were having some sort of event, so it was really hard to concentrate. Finally, I was done in the reference section, upstairs, and needed to go back downstairs to find a regular non-fiction book. I couldn't find the section at first...and then I saw another room behind glass doors. It looked like some off-limits area...like Area 51 of the public library. I thought "there's no way this is just the non-fiction section." I opened the door expecting an alarm or something, but was greeted me was something both familiar and unexpected:
and the smell of old books.
I love books. Barnes and Noble is one of my favorite stores, and I could spend hours in there taking in the magic of being surrounded by hundreds upon hundreds of people's words, thoughts, and feelings. Anyone ever seen the movie "Inkheart" where the books whisper they're secrets and contents to Brendan Frasier and his daughter? It's like that...only, ya know...without audible whispering.
Even more than that, though, I love old books. The feeling of being connected to all the hands that once touched the pages and became the story...the Never-Ending Story. Old books touch my heart and my mind and...*sigh* I don't know. I wish I could describe it.
I think it's the quiet part of my soul. I am loud and social and happy and joyful and giggly and boisterous...but here, in this quiet place, with only the sound of the librarian looking at microfiche (yeah...remember that?!), I remembered the quiet part of me and embraced it. I could still see the other side...I could look through the glass doors and see the activity, knowing that is a part of me, too, but for just a while I relished the silence and solitude. I took a minute to take in the feel of the books...the large, old leather bound volumes at the top of the shelves and the volumes wrapped in paper and string to try to preserve their already worn pages.
I did my research and then joined the rest of the world again. I left the quiet part of me and rejoined the ruckus, but I'll tell you this...this old friend and I are going to visit much more often. :)