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The Library

Posted on: Tuesday

While running errands last week, we found ourselves passing by the lovely New York Public Library. She is a beauty. Where else can you walk, past the lion statues guarding the front, away from the buzzing and honking and rushing of the streets, through a sparkling revolving glass door, to find yourself in marble-walled silence? Within the library exists a certain stillness which is so elusive in the city.  Time slows down, knowledge and wisdom overcome movement and schedules, and all is calm. I immediately discovered two things upon entering the grand ol' library. {1} I still love it, & {2} it may be the most stroller-unfriendly building in all of New York. 

The place is made of wraparound staircases, not an elevator to be found. Majestic, breathtaking, shiny, inconvenient staircases. Staircases & books. Of course I never noticed this before I had a bambino. So we didn't make it all the way up together or stay long (Biet was sleeping anyway), but I did leave the husband and the child to wander through the building on my own for a little while. I so look forward to bringing Biet to story time here in a few months (when she is big enough to both walk and grasp the concept of storytelling). 

The NY Public Library always reminds me of my late Grandfather, my Mother's father, Horace. He used to take me and my sisters, when we were tiny, to the downtown Portland library every week. He would teach me how the books were organized with their secret codes of numbers and letters. He signed me up for my very own (!) library card, and showed me how, with it, I could take home all the books that I wanted. I remember coming to him, after joyously perusing the children's' section for close to an hour, with arms spilling over with of all the magical storybooks I could carry. He would help me sift through to find the very best ones to carry home that week. And we would check them out and drive home, and he would read them to me. 

We called him Grampy, and, as I remember, he was the smartest man in the world. He used to tell me that he had read every single book in the library, and that if I kept at it, I would one day accomplish the same. I remember that seeming like a very exciting and reasonable challenge. Grampy sparked my lifelong fascination with storytelling and love of literature, and for this I am grateful. I'm sure he would have loved the New York Public Library. I know he would have loved the fact that I bring Biet here, and that I will teach her, also, to search through the vast rows and rows of books and to discover her favorites. I hope to instill in her the same wonder that Grampy fostered in me so many years ago. He was a well-traveled man, and I often wonder if he ever stepped foot inside the great New York Public Library. I hope so.


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