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Monday, May 14, 2018

A FRIENDLY LOCATION-Part 1. [M, 5-14-18]

CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith & Life for the Years of Winter…

A FRIENDLY LOCATION-Part 1.    [M, 5-14-18]

[This reflection on libraries is twice as long as a blog post should be, so I have divided it into two sections. This is the first of the two.]

Our library sent me an email telling me that it has been certified as a Dementia Friendly Location. Just why they thought I should receive this information, I am not sure. It did, however, start me thinking about the libraries of my life and their Friendliness designations.

When I was a grade school kid in Indianapolis, I was in the summer reading program at the branch library on Washington St. We had to tell the librarian the stories of the books we read so that we could get stars on our chart, and so they could be assured we had actually read the books. I thought it was a Suspicion Friendly Location, because she let my friends get away with a 15 second report on their books, but when I stepped up to report, she called all the other librarians over and made me tell the whole story. Scared me to death. It was years before I found out, from my mother, that she did that because all the librarians loved the way I told stories. [How could I not become a preacher?] It was a Beginner Friendly Location.

We moved to a little farm outside of Oakland City, 135 miles south of Indianapolis, when I was ten. The library in OC was on the top floor of the fire station, up a narrow wooden staircase. Whenever I asked the hump-backed little librarian lady for a book on ventriloquism or magic or history, she always said, forlornly, “We have mostly fiction.” It was an Imagination Friendly Location.

The Oakland City grade school did not have a library, but there was one in the high school, sort of--bookshelves in the front and back of the long study hall, which served also as the lunch room, and my homeroom. In study hall, I would hurry through my assignments so that I could go to the shelves in the rear and pull out a Howard Pease book, always about some boy who stowed away on a tramp ship and ended up having to battle pirates. It was a Dream Friendly Location.

When I went to IU, the magnificent Wells Library, named for long-time IU president, Herman B Wells, the most important figure in higher education in the 20th century, did not yet exist. The library was what is now called Franklin Hall, which houses primarily the Media School. I went there in the evenings to sit and study in the long, wide, high-ceilinged Social Studies Reading Room. That reading room was my high school library magnified 100 times, except no Howard Pease novels on the shelves. Nothing but reference books there, thousands and thousands of them. In the stacks were hundreds of thousands of books. Anything on any subject in any language. I felt like such a citizen of the world there. That was an Aspiration Friendly Location. [1]

[More friendly locations tomorrow.]


1] I knew there were millions and millions of books without counting, because one of my summer jobs was back in the stacks using a vacuum system to dust all those books. Took all summer and we still weren’t done.

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