Here we go again--New Year's Resolutions. And the ones I thought of on my own were stale and boring, having to do with girth and guilt. Then I read my friend Margaret's Facebook page and stole her idea: do something new every week, or maybe it was month. I'll say month, because that's easier, less guilt over failure. And I know what my first few months will involve--libraries! I am a big fan of the public library. They trust me to take their books home and keep them for weeks. I wouldn't lend my books like that, except to a few really good friends. I'm a pretty good patron. I rarely miss a due date for returns, don't spill tea on the pages, don't leave books where Duncan the Dog can chew them. (He's often referred to as Destructo Dog, so keeping things out of his reach is important.) I try not to take more home than I can reasonably read at one time. And I often discipline my buying habits--borrow first, then buy if I really need my own copy to write in or refer to in the middle of the night, or the middle of a blizzard like the one my friends and family in Maine are coping with this morning. (Careful on that steep, snowy driveway, Son.)
Here's my resolution: I will visit as many libraries this year as I can. I know my own wonderful Mamie Doud Eisenhower Library in Broomfield, and the College Hill Library in nearby Westminster. I've been in the New York Public Library with its famous and fabulous reading room. I think that years ago I walked into the Library of Congress and right out again, overwhelmed. When I was in New Orleans last spring I visited the city library, a sad place, clearly never fully funded after Katrina, but still, a lively and important part of city life.
When I was a student at Potter Academy, a tiny high school in East Sebago, Maine, I was often sent to the library to listen to tapes of Chaucer. I was the only college prep student in my senior class and the teacher could not find any other way for me to study what the rest of the students would have found impossibly boring. I can still see that "library" aka the principal's office. George Cobb in his gray tweed jacket sat behind me, back to back like bookends, while I listened to poetry that I never quite understood. But the library idea was etched into me, a place of privilege and quiet, a place where I could find the exotic and unusual. Today I'm off to my local to talk to my friends at the reference desk about my tour of libraries. And to pick up Muriel Rukeyser's collected poems. And to sit and marvel at the other riches all within my reach.