When you were in grade school, do you remember the very first time you were given your first library card? This prized possession was as if it were your first passport upon entering a new world with “grownups”. You were on cloud nine and it was your birthday. This special day you were on a free shopping spree at your favorite candy store full of sweet-smelling scents of chocolate fudge, sugar cookies and every color of M&Ms everywhere. Rainbow-colored balloons with your name written all over. S*p*a*r*k*l*e*s of gold and glitter congratulating you and sharing in the joys of your special gift!
Being granted a library card was like being the final Torchbearer in lighting the Cauldron at the ceremony of London 2012 Olympics.
The traditional term “library” was such a special word that you had to utter it softly. Entering a magnificient space like this was so extraordinary that the experience you feel, see and touch is so speechless. The walls would reach so high into an awe-struck captivating form of closure in a dome so high as if it was taller than the blue skies.
This mystery often complexed many of us as young kinder. We always wondered how is it possible that this grandeur was built by a human being. How tall would a man or women have to be to reach out and draw intricately detailed paintings of religious, theologically inspired detailed images all around?
As pages were turned into the next chapter, we would spend our free time reading books, learning and finding new knowledge to share since before the world tilted on its axis prior to the evolution era of “smart machines” do what you are supposed to be doing (and saving us the energy of walking up and down the long, narrow library stacks, grabbing the ladder to find everything yourself, and being hushed by the librarian.
Not only learning in public libraries but also these libraries were where those John Hughes 80s Brat Pack movies claimed their fame. Those teenagers were after their high school crushes, but not always. These were the times were misfits would fit in with others in a library. For example, bad boy Judd Nelson, princess Molly Ringwald, quarterback jock Emilio Estevez, quirky Ally Sheedy and nerdy Anthony Michael Hall were all forced to sit in detention all day on a Saturday… The Breakfast Club.
Libraries were everything in those days. A young female teen would sink inside a tall tower of books toppling over like the Tower of Pisa, trying to achieve balance, while daydreaming of holding hands with the most popular boy leaning against the library stack row 5 of aisle A. Perhaps another way for matchmaking (before internet dating) was surely inspired by the 1980s teenagers all time favorite scene of Pretty in Pink where Andrew McCarthy sends a message to Molly Ringwald while she is researching the library catalog on those heavy and bulky “machines” where you scroll up and down on filmstrips and inside of books.
Those older, grandeur structures built in the 15th, 16th centuries to the early 1980s were dignified for inspiration and learning. Their original foundation of detailed material, art work, and its ethereal aura have been blessed religiously and spiritually as eternal. Having your grandparents take you to the library on a rainy, cold afternoon and sneaking in a candy bar with you was just priceless.
Until Barnes and Noble changed our lives. Barnes and Noble, Borders and those artsy coffee joints with tons of shelves filling up all walls of books and magazines were just “copycats” of the reason why we went to the library. The days of that special library card opening up a treasure of gold were just so passe’.
Now with Starbucks following us so fast like Twitter, our original “Breakfast Club” had bid farewell. “People are crazy and times are strange. I’m locked in tight… but things have changed…” Bob Dylan knew what was going on.
Now, as people swear their lives on Kindles and e-book publishing, they subconsciously still exhibit a sign of being young, free-spirited and checking out books with their special card, at no cost.
It is possible that some libraries could survive the long trenches, fatigue, and headaches of our “wizards” and robots dominating our “Breakfast Clubs”. Perhaps after our solar system tilts on its axis again.
It ain’t over til the fat lady sings, until it is time for detention with your future best friends.