The Latest, the Greatest, It’s the Library

Library Song

There’s a place for you and a place for me,
it’s the local public library.
They have books and things that they lend for free
It’s the latest, it’s the greatest, it’s the library.

Educational, informational,
entertainment that’s sensational.
It’s a way of life, it’s for you and me
It’s the latest, it’s the greatest, it’s the library.

They have histories, they have mysteries
And for mothers, books of recipes
See a movie show, hear a symphony
It’s the latest, it’s the greatest, it’s the library.


For me, the public library is a wonder.  It is a haven to visit for learning, for communal involvement and for observing very interesting people.  In the grand scheme, a library is emblematic of freedom of speech, expression and the right to assembly.  In the smaller scope of things, a library is a window into the daily workings of a community.



My Haunt. Boo!!!



My local branch, the Oakton Library, has been open now for almost four years.  It was quite a coup to finally get our own library.  I go there about twice a week and spend an hour or two on their computers.  There are other “regulars” I routinely see.  The library, being a free, public venue, has become a haunt for some truly fascinating people.  It is this cast of characters with whom I will busy myself now.  And yes, I am totally cognizant that I am one of these library “hauntees!”

First we have a woman, probably in her forties, who sits down at a computer terminal and immediately starts blowing any grime or dust off of the desk and computer.  She then takes out an antibacterial wipe and commences to do away with any bacteria.  Finally, she rearranges the equipment, the desk accessories and the screen position to her specifications.  Her routine is somewhat OCD but honestly, it imparts no harm to anyone.  Plus, it is kind of calming for me to watch her rituals.

When I am using one of the library computers, I do realize that there is no privacy.  One day, as I was typing away, this same individual asked me if I was writing on some hot, political issue.  Obviously, she must have peered over my shoulder in the past and noticed my “Yo Mama For Obama” site.  I chuckled and tried to tone down my typing style.

Another habitue of my library is a man, around 60 years old, who shows up, regardless of the weather, in full body garb: long pants sweater, scarf, wool sports coat, and a heavy hat with ear flaps —- that are without fail, always down over his ears.  He totes with him a plastic bag filled with papers that invariably wind up all spread out on the desk top.  Clearly, he has some work to do.  His sartorial mode and work load is interesting, but once again, harmless.  What is annoying though, is that this man often falls asleep in front of the computer terminal and snores quite loudly.  Is it or is it not correct library protocol to gently wake him up so that the snoring will cease?

Speaking about irksome noises, why is it that my local library-goers always bring with them the noisiest snacks?  Yes, the Oakton Library allows food and covered drinks to enter their facility.  But crunchy nuts, snacks involving loud wrappers and noisy gum-cracking have no place in a designated, quiet public space.  On  yeah —- are not the multiple signs to turn off your cell phone obvious enough?  I am really not interested in hearing a new-fangled, hip cell phone tone every five minutes.

One aspect of auditory stimulation in the library that I have come to adore though is the chatter, laughter and even the whines and cries of the visiting children.  At first, I found myself annoyed with their disturbances.  Eventually, I have come to look forward to whatever sounds they utter because the most important fact is that they are at the library.  With time and maturity, they will adjust their behavior accordingly.  In the interim, we need to have the kids at the library often, regardless of the noise levels they produce.

Finally, I notice that there are a lot of senior citizens using the computer facilities at the library.  I hereby give those folks kudos for tackling new technology.  Also, library visits may be a way for elderly people to partake in community events.  Sometimes, isolation can be debilitating and I do hope regular visits to the library can alleviate that.

None of the cast of characters that I have written about seem socially or mentally unstable.  They do though, seem to congregate around me.  Am I a magnet for idiosyncratic individuals?  However, given the continuous crackdown, since the Reagan era, on funds for the mentally disabled, I daresay that our public libraries, especially those in urban areas,  can become day care centers for those in need.  Here’s a twisted little story about the sane versus the insane in our society today:

Edna & Ralph

Just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to, doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have.

Ralph and Edna were both patients in a mental hospital. One day while they were walking past the hospital swimming pool, Ralph suddenly jumped into the deep end.

He sank to the bottom of the pool and stayed there.

Edna promptly jumped in to save him. She swam to the bottom and pulled him out.

When the Head Nurse Director became aware of Edna’s heroic act she immediately ordered her to be discharged from the hospital, as she now considered her to be mentally stable.

When she went to tell Edna the news she said, ‘Edna, I have good news and bad news. The good news is you’re being discharged, since you were able to rationally respond to a crisis by jumping in and saving the life of the person you love… I have concluded that your act displays sound mindedness.

The bad news is, Ralph hung himself in the bathroom with his bathrobe belt right after you saved him. I am so sorry, but he’s dead.’

Edna replied, ‘He didn’t hang himself, I put him there to dry.

How soon can I go home?’


At times, the library seems like a perfect petri dish to find sitcom characters.  After all, our libraries are microcosms of our great big world.  Nonetheless, we all should give thanks for the concepts and funding that make our libraries viable.  Regardless of the visitors they may attract in today’s unsympathetic world, our libraries are a cornerstone of freedom and a promise to our young that their minds matter and will always have a place to grow.

Our public libraries are sites for the lost and the found.  Their cultural role is multi-dimensional, serving as a fountain of found knowledge and even providing a haven to those temporarily lost.  Talk about serving the community. It’s the latest, it’s the greatest, it’s the liberry!




In the Decorah nest, we have a second chick that hatched.  Glory be!  Watch here.




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One Response to “The Latest, the Greatest, It’s the Library”

  1. A Magnetic Attraction for Quirkiness « Yo Mama For Obama Says:

    […] my post from April 3, 2011, “The Latest, the Greatest, It’s the Library”, one of the topics on which I touch is the quirky library regulars who, without failure, have the […]

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