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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

A FRIENDLY LOCATION, Part 2. [T, 5-15-18]

A FRIENDLY LOCATION, Part 2.   [T, 5-15-18]

[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 second of the two. If you did not read yesterday’s column, it might be good to scroll down and do so, at least the first paragraph.]

I started professional school at Perkins School of Theology, at SMU. The librarian there told us we were never to put our heads down or otherwise look like we were doing anything but studying there. He explained why: “An older couple went to Harvard to establish a memorial to their son, who had died as a teenager. The librarian there suggested they plant a tree. So Mr. and Mrs. Leland Stanford went back to California and established their memorial to their son there. I don’t want anybody coming through here and thinking we’re worthy only of a tree.” It was a Donor Friendly Location.

After I got thrown out of Dallas, I finished seminary at Garrett, at Northwestern University. Frank Lloyd Wright said that the Northwestern Library looked like “a pig lying on its back.” It was a Pork Friendly Location. Garrett had its own library, though, which it shared with Seabury-Western, the Episcopal seminary across Sheridan Ave. [2] It was an Ecumenicity Friendly Location.

When I did graduate work at the University of Iowa, I had my own carrel, back in the stacks, full of the books that I alone needed for research into the interface of communication theory and theological methodology. [Actually I didn’t know the word “interface” then.] I felt like such a scholar. It was an Erudition Friendly Location.

While in Iowa City, Helen and the girls and I would go to the town library on Friday nights and each come home with a big stack of books. We would retire to our respective rooms and start reading. Occasionally we’d hear feet going downstairs. That meant someone was fixing hot chocolate. We’d all run down, get a mug full and go back to our books. We did the same thing on Friday nights through all their school years, when there were not ball games, st the libraries in Orion and Hoopeston, IL. Those libraries were Friday-Night-Lamps Friendly Locations.

When we lived in Charleston, IL, Helen worked at the public library. Each Friday at 5:00 a young man came in and asked for a recommendation for an interesting novel he could read in two days. He was serving out his sentence in the jail across the street on weekends, so that he could keep his weekday job. That library was a Convict Friendly Location.

At the library in Sterling, IL we used to take our grandchildren to story time. Once the children’s librarian, Anita Elgin, a gentle middle-aged woman, who was a member in a church where I was the interim pastor, saw a man slip through a side door and grab a little girl and try to run off with her, Anita didn’t scream or call 911. She ran after them and tackled him. That library was a Child Friendly Location.

We moved to Mason City, IA to live in the same town as our grandchildren, when Brigid was three. She was so well-known as a reader that one day the librarian said to Helen, “Oh, you’re Brigid’s grandmother.” It was the sobriquet Helen had worked a lifetime to achieve. Her identity now was as Grandma. That library was an Identity Friendly Location.

Well, there are more libraries to go, but I have already used two columns on it, so I’ll leave them to you. What friendliness location designation should the libraries of your life have?


2] The Northwestern technology college was just north of the seminaries. The students there called Garrett “East Jesus Tech” and Seabury-Western was “West Jesus Tech.”

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