What do Urban Mommies, a famous Froggy, and a local mystery maven have in common? They’ll all be making an appearance at Read to the People, the 24-hour read-a-thon that begins today at noon. That’s right: 144 volunteer readers, including many local celebrities, signed up for a collective 1,440 minutes of reading out loud to raise awareness of the Our Library, Our Future voter initiative. That’s 24 hours of library love. Makes me feel warm and fuzzy all over.
I’m biased, of course. But, quite frankly, even if I didn’t work here, I’d still visit every day. For starters, you’d better believe I’d be getting my money’s worth from the library. The amount of money I save on books alone is so embarrassingly high I’m surprised it’s not illegal: $850 per every fifty books checked out on my card. That makes the cost of a Donor Plus membership look, by comparison, decidedly affordable. Add in the value of free internet access, free magazines and research journals, free cultural/educational programming, and all the other free perks that come with library membership? I’d be a fool not to spend my time here (especially if I were actually searching for a new job).
It’s the intangibles that matter most to me, though, namely my emotional attachment to the library as a palace of letters and light. Illusory though it may be, it comforts me to think that, in our frazzled, consumption-driven world, there is still one place where any citizen may go and be treated with courtesy and respect. One haven where, if they’re willing to work and learn, people can teach themselves anything they care to know. A sanctuary that values both quiet spaces and noisy, cheerful, collaborative ones. A place for children to dream and explore, and for adults to remember how to dream and explore. A safe space to navigate the sometimes muddy waters of being a teen (and, of course, to have fun while doing so). A place where, no matter how many times you’ve failed, you can always start over.
As lovely as all that sounds, I know that libraries can’t sustain themselves on dreams and illusions. They need you: your time, your ear, your voice, your donations, your vote. That’s why I’m part of the volunteer crew staying up all night for Read to the People: I love the library so much, I’m not content to be with it in the daytime. I’m going to stay up all night to support it, and so are a lot of your friends and neighbors. Won’t you join us?
In conjunction with the brouhaha, Eleventh Stack will update frequently this weekend with photos and short posts about read-aloud festivities. You can also get read-aloud tidbits on Facebook and Twitter, and participate virtually by retweeting and sharing links and photos in your social networks. Spread the word, and we hope to see you soon, either outside or online!
serendipitously celebrating nine years of library employment today