Daily Archives: July 3, 2008

The sacred and the secular

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  –John 1:1, King James Bible

For as long as I can remember I’ve always had a passion for the sacred.  In high school I studied world religions in my free time.  In college I double majored in Biblical studies and philosophy.  I poured over thinkers like Augustine and Plato trying to get a glimpse of God’s nature and a clearer understanding of my own.  Even at a young age I knew my vocation would be serving people and God in some form or another.  

My chosen profession couldn’t be more apt.  Imagine this: I sit serenely at the Ask-A-Librarian desk and people approach meekly as if approaching an altar, and then confess that they haven’t been here in years.  I benevolently welcome them and absolve them of this sin.  They ask me for guidance in their search for knowledge and truth.  I consult my sacred text, the card catalog computer, and then I graciously step off my throne and guide them to the Mezzanine.  Finally, they bow and kiss my hand in gratitude as I offer them a blessing.

Okay, not exactly, but I’m not the first person to make this connection.  In her book Sacred Stacks Nancy Kalikow Maxwell makes an argument for the library as both a sacred and secular space.  She discusses the awe-inspiring and almost religious aspects of library architecture and atmosphere (“shhh…”), and also the idea that librarians are the venerated clergy and guardians of knowledge.  Along with organizing the chaos of information and presenting it in an accessible way for the masses, librarians also bestow immortality through the preservation of the written word and bring the community together to learn and share ideas.

I like being the intermediary between people and information, knowledge and truth—define each as you will.  I like that people can enter our hallowed walls and ask for anything—anything at all and we can help to guide them to the answer. 



Filed under Uncategorized