Heckuva new library

May 23, 2006 by susan

On another note, I went to the library opening the other night, and though there's not enough money to operate the joint, it was quite beautiful. And the good people of this town, the petty burghers, were out in full force, self-congratulatory and why not? It's a lovely deal to celebrate a place for books instead of say, football, even if no one reads anymore, other than Somali immigrants and we're not letting any more of them in, that's for sure. It does seem a bit of odd timing, a temple to books -- but also with a g'zillion wireless computer terminals, which tells the tale.
Still, I was moved by all of it, and the way they had the Gay Men's Choir sing, which was by lining them along the tiers of the three balconies, at one end, with the rest of us looking on, and to see these guys in all shapes and sizes, as normal or nerdy as anyone can be, holding hands on their final number, well, it made me cry. It was reminiscent of the civil rights movement to me and how idiotic it is to treat these guys differently, the separate-but-not- quite-equal and no-marriage-for-you thing.
Libraries have pretty much always been egalitarian portals to information and delight, thanks largely to Andrew Carnegie, who scattered pretty little libraries all over this country like apple seeds, and had the words, "Free to All" carved over the door of his own Pittsburgh library. This one's a beaut, soaring spaces filled with books and computers and imagination. And though not open long enough hours, it is still free to all. Every one of us.

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