Daily Archives: March 23, 2009

Myth, Understood

Every day I talk to people who are looking for facts and answers.  Libraries have lots of resources and services for factual questions, and I love showing people how to use them!

It’s only fair to point out, though, that libraries also house questions:  the big ones, about life, the universe, and everything.  And while librarians can’t tell you who to vote for, what deity to worship, or how to handle your in-laws, we can give you lots of information about such topics so you can make the best decisions for yourself.

If that sounds somewhat less than reassuring, take comfort in the fact that human beings have been trying to make sense of shenanigans on our crazy little blue planet for thousands of years. Religion, science and philosophy are three useful theoretical frameworks for this kind of exploration, but I’ve always been kind of partial to mythology as a way of searching for meaning. By examining the legends and archetypes of bygone days, you can learn a lot about storytelling, problem-solving, and meaning-making, three human functions that aren’t going away anytime soon.  

Here are just a few of the many books on mythology that you can borrow from the Carnegie Library:

A lot of people, myself included, first get hooked on mythology via the classic texts by Hamilton, Bulfinch, Campbell, or Frazer, and you can’t go wrong starting with any one of them.  If you can’t get to the library right away, you might want to look at The Encyclopedia Mythica, a great internet resource that’s organized by geographic region; it also contains a section on Arthurian legends and an image gallery, among other research goodies.  Once you find something interesting there, you can do a catalog search to see what, if any, materials the library has on your myth/legend/hero(ine)/archetype of choice.

By now it should be obvious that when you say “myth,” the Carnegie Library says “Yes!” Mythology can be pretty heady stuff, though, so if you start to get overwhelmed, you might want to kick back and ponder The Meaning of Life instead.

Happy questing,

–Leigh Anne

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