I have a terrible story to tell you. A story of shame. A story of mistakes and foolish pride. Last night I – oh, how can I tell you? – last night, I went to the Library.
Okay, it wasn’t that bad. But let’s recap with a glance at what I’ve said in the recent past about libraries.
I’m … disappointed in them. In my adult life I’ve only visited them for specialized information and left confused. Where were the greats in the field I was searching in? Granted, I have no idea how to properly search for books in the library, but still. Aren’t libraries supposed to to be a repository for the best of our civilization? It makes me wonder: has God decided to flood the world again then? Only this time in worn Tom Clancy paperbacks?
And when I later complained about a possible future elementary school for my son not having it’s own library, my top two commentators, Elliot and Imani had this to say:
Elliot: God: “Oh, so you say you don’t like libraries, Ian? TAKE THIS!” [lays a smackdown of poetic justice]
Imani: That’s kind of a mean way to get back at you though. God should have just dropped something on your head like…a library check-out system. Plus, it would have been funny.
To make matters worse, when commentator, Julie, stopped by to lend her approval to Elliot’s comment, I suggested I would never pass through Library doors again.
Until last night. And it was fun.
I made it sort of a father-son adventure. We had dropped my wife off at her art class for the night and needed some way to pass the time. Now, my three year old son, he loves the book store. “This is all the books, dad?” he asks. I wanted to enlarge his conception of “all the books” so we went to the main branch of the Winnipeg Library system, the downtown library embarrassingly named Millennium Library.
What did we do there? We first admired the art installation in the main entrance, a two-story wall covered in hundreds of business card-sized canvases. It was my son who pointed it out to me. His parents are artists so he thinks art is cool. Each one was, I think, painted by a different artist, although it could of been the work of one person. I have to confess I didn’t pay much attention to it. I was distracted when I realized the last time I was there someone had been sleeping where I was standing.
We pretended the wide, four-story, concrete staircase, enclosed by glass paneled railings, open space on either side of it, that leads up to the reference floor, we pretended that was a mountain. I’m sure the people studying and watching movies on their laptops in the small alcoves off to the side weren’t impressed as we stopped at every floor to wipe our brows and loudly wonder if we’d ever make it to the top. Which we did, of course. And the fourth floor was pretty quiet. The computers up there don’t have internet access so, of course, no one goes there – take that library, you slave to novelty.
We eventually made it back to the main floor where we didn’t actually look at books. My son reminded me that little kids don’t know how to be quiet. He actually said that. I tried to convince him that the library is a church for books so he’d use his church-voice but he wouldn’t buy it. So instead of reading we ran between the aisles tracking deer. My son thinks he’s Mowgli, you see – its actually tough convincing him to wear clothes around the house some days. I guess it’s alright to be noisy in the library if you’re pretending to be a character from a classic children’s story, right?
Anyway, my son has his very own library card now. He even checked out his first two books, a collection of Brer Rabbit stories. What did I check out with my brand new library card?
Nothing. You don’t think I’m going to take out one of their books do you?