Libraries: more than a first kiss
[Today we're lucky to have the wonderful Robin M. Pizzo, library lover and Director of Education at WKAR, Michigan State, talking about the importance of libraries...]
Yes, I can admit I received my first kiss in the main library located at 5201 Woodward Avenue in downtown Detroit, inside a study cubicle in the eighth grade by a boy named Adam. As sweet and fleeting as that moment was, it doesn’t compare to the love I have always had for the place in which it occurred. My love of libraries runs deep. I am unable to recall a time in my life where the library system did not play a significant role. From the before-mentioned first kiss, to long hours discovering authors I adored while completing homework and research projects in high school, to the ever-present study groups held in my university’s library, it has shaped who I am and the values I hold dear.
When we travel the years of my life, the library maps through not only my educational pursuits in two graduate programs but also personal milestones. Milestones that include discovering a career, becoming a wife and learning how to mother. Even today the library whispers its importance each time I hustle or (in more academic jargon) champion the value of reading and the power of books like my main man Lootin’ Lenny ‘who had plenty’on Good Times.
The library is a profound beacon of educational achievement with its stable and welcoming arms of hope. If not for its presence our country would be guilty of what Fredrick Douglass once called “an irresponsible power” in not teaching its people how to be literate. For me, hope was found as a latchkey kid of a single mother, who worked too far away to pick my sister and I up during early dismissal Wednesdays. Her desire to provide us with the best education, meant we attended a school easily forty-five minutes from our home and several hours from her office, in Dearborn at Ford Motor Company.
Each Wednesday, my sister and I walked to the library, several blocks singing all the latest Michael Jackson and New Edition hits along the way. We’d stop for twenty-five cent ice-cream cones at McDonalds and climb the statues outside the library savoring each vanilla drip. We spent a minimum of four hours at the library each week, waiting for our ride to take us home. Most classmates did the same and often gave the librarians a run for their money. I’m sure they did not expect to provide daycare for riotous junior high students. Nevertheless, they welcomed us and ‘shushed’ us into learning the world was ours if we embraced the knowledge available between each stack and on each page.
The Dewey Decimal system was king and understanding it meant we’d reign too, one day. The library gifted me with richly vast and diverse cultural experiences from those early years up until today. My first experience with portraiture and sculptures were of the many gracing its marble walls and purposefully placed around the building. Libraries are national treasures holding the truths to societies advancement. Literature, culture, arts, creativity all nestled in the library’s loving embrace keeps a community thriving. I’d invite all to visit, immerse in the hope it provides, check out tons of books, and if with a beloved, steal a kiss to make the moment even sweeter.