Finding Your Library

Yale-Day-Missions-Divinity-Library

Many people I talk to are embracing the Old Money philosophy and way of life and letting go of the work-to-spend/constantly-in-motion/vicious consumer cycle that has dominated American culture for the last 75 years.

They’ve ditched the shopping mall for a hiking trail, turned off the television–or started watching PBS–and have opted out of social media in favor of actual social gatherings. They’re finding they have richer relationships, lower blood pressure, and a clearer perspective of what their life is all about.

They’ve also stopped buying the latest fashions, but let me be clear: Old Money culture is not about button-down shirts, khakis, and penny loafers. Those are (sometimes) aspects of it, but those clothing items are more symptomatic of a philosophy than the substance of it.

A big part of the substance of it is Education. What’s more, it’s important to understand that education doesn’t stop once you get a diploma and start a career. It’s a lifelong endeavor.

A key element to that endeavor is continuous reading. While the merits of Kindle, Nook, and the iPad are obvious, there is something about a physical book that captures the imagination (mine, anyway). It is a tangible, touchable condensation of the author’s thoughts: rich, detailed histories, revolutionary ideas, unforgettable fictional characters, great tales of adventure, inspiring biographies–all at your fingertips in a much more immediate way than the electronic medium.

If you’re on a budget (and most of us, OMG or not, are) a great source of free reading material can be found at your local public library. Yes, it’s wonderful to go online and order up the latest bestseller from Amazon without be required to leave the house or the cubicle. Another wonderful option is to walk to your local library, ask the librarian to suggest some classic titles that relate to your area of interest, and get lost in a forest of books for a few hours.

If you don’t feel sufficiently schooled in the classics, wouldn’t know where to start in a library, or would like to understand what all the hub-bub is about Shakespeare and his merry band of Dead White Males (wink, nod), start with Harold Bloom’s Western Canon. (To be fair, he covers the ladies, too, including Virginia Woolf and Jane Austen.)

Why go to a library? Because places hold the thoughts and energy of the people who frequent them, be they churches, schools, burlesque clubs, cemeteries, or libraries. The people who frequent libraries, it may be argued, are studious, curious, circumspect, and probably well-read. They may be–or will be in the future– well-educated, either formally or independently. The residue of their thirst for knowledge, considered thought, and well-informed opinion can be palpable in some libraries, especially on college campuses.

For centuries, libraries have been repositories of knowledge, incubators of thought, oases of tranquility in a too-fast world. They are a bastion of permanence in a disposable society.

No matter where you live, there’s probably one near you.

Check it out.

– BGT


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