I received an email about impending budget cuts to the New York Public Library. Shocking story, right? Libraries all over are losing funding and have been for years. Normally I don’t bother with this sort of thing, but this time, it’s about something that actually matters to me. So I wrote a letter to the mayor. You can, too. Just go here. (One tip: there’s a pre-written letter for you to use on the site. Of course, I wrote this whole thing before I clicked to the next page and realized that.)
Aside from the one I have with my family, it’s the longest relationship I’ve ever had.
True, it’s not perfect and it never has been. At first I didn’t quite know what to do with all it had to offer me and preferred to chew on the books instead of read them. At times we’d go for months without seeing each other. There were even moments when I thought the hassle of maintaining the relationship wasn’t worth it and I resorted to the ease of visiting establishments where I could pay for the same kinds of services.
But through it all, there it was, enduring my doubts and repeatedly encouraging me to return, regardless of whether I gave it anything in return. It watched over me while I did research for college papers, it stood by me while I tried to figure out who I was, and it gave me space when all I wanted to do was sit there in silence. It didn’t ask me for anything to prove my love. It didn’t accuse me of cheating on it when I stayed away. All it ever wanted was for me to expand my imagination and grow as a person.
Of course, there are people who accuse the library of being stuck in the past and say it needs to change to keep up with the times and technology. And maybe it does. But in any good relationship, that’s what you do. You evolve together, and work at your issues, and come out the other end even stronger.
Without the library, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I wouldn’t have visited so many places or seen so many things or understood so many people. So I’m writing this letter for me. But I know there are many people out there who feel the same way but can’t come up with the words to express it, so I’m also writing for everyone who is a part of this long-term relationship. I’m writing to encourage anyone who has ever experienced a love like this to speak up, write down, or do whatever possible to save it. Maybe words alone can’t save something, but every day, the words inside the books inside the library keep people’s souls alive, so we need to at least try to rescue them in return.
Because relationships like this, like the one between the library and me and you, don’t happen all that often. It’s our responsibility to do all we can to preserve it, not only so we can continue to enjoy its loving embrace, but so our children can know this love as well. Sure, we can tell them stories about the days when we had the library in our lives, but it’s really something they need to experience firsthand to truly understand–when it comes to true love, there are no words to do it justice.
The library has never abandoned you. Please don’t abandon it when it needs you the most.