Rather, I decided to blog about the place I'd rather be than anywhere in the world. A public library.
|Courtesy NYPL Digital Collections, free to use|
Every Thursday except during the summer, I would visit the bookmobile that stopped by my city housing project. On the last visit before summer vacation, they would allow us to take out as many books as we wanted, and they were not due until September.
For me, Heaven!
Libraries were a haven to me. They helped me become who I am today. They've done that for thousands and thousands of people, perhaps millions, all over the world.
The library I grew up with was the New York Public Library. I need to explain here that New York City, when I was growing up, had three public library systems (actually, it still does). Where I lived was New York Public Library territory. There were branch libraries in various neighborhoods, and if heavy duty research was needed, I would travel downtown into Manhattan on the subway.
I moved from New York City over 45 years ago, so I haven't had a New York City library card in many, many years.
The New York Public Library is celebrating its 125th birthday today. Happy birthday! Like many other milestone birthdays, the NYPL can not celebrate in person - all its libraries are closed. But no one says we can't do it online.
A couple of weeks ago a Facebook friend told me that, for the duration of the closing, any New York State resident could get a virtual card and take out e-books. using an Android or iOS app. So, for the last two weeks, I have been a New York City Library cardholder. It was simple - I downloaded the app, and the app used my phone's GPS to verify that the phone was located in New York State. Voila!
So far, I've read The Testaments by Margaret Atwood and am partway through Educated, by Tara Westover. I was permitted to "take out" both for 14 days.
It's my understanding that this will end when the library system reopens. I would have to go into a branch to validate and get a physical card. I don't live in, work in, or own property in, New York City. Elsewhere on the site, it talks about being able to send in proof of New York STATE residency. I'm a bit confused, but I won't let that bother me.
I'm once again a proud card-carrying member of the library of my youth.
We all take local buildings and institutions for granted. After all, they are there, we pass them every day, and we take them for granted. Even I do, sometimes. But now, they are closed (at least in New York State) "until further notice". Just when we need them more than ever.
Local public libraries face many challenges today. Their funds are constantly being cut. People are loathe to vote in the tax increases they need to survive. But these libraries are, increasingly, so much more than a place where you can walk in with a card and walk out with one or more books to read. They provide internet access, wi-fi, computers for those who don't own one, job hunting services, e books, CDs and DVDs, magazines, free tax preparation done by volunteers, free databases, and so much more. One of our local libraries even features yoga classes and a knitting group. At least, in better times, it did.
In fact, the photo I started this post with is from a digital collection of the New York (City) Public Library, and anyone can down load it, free of charge.
As I used to say in the 60's, "isn't that awesome?"
Thank you, libraries, and again, Happy 125th, NYPL.