December 2003

Michael Farrelly

library rakehell

Spend the Winter in Your Library

The best time of year to visit your library is the winter.

Unless youíre living near to the equator or in the southern hemisphere winter is a time of short cold days and long freezing nights. The sun becomes this glaring orb that seems less like the eye of heaven than the flashlight of a hotel detective from some cheap Raymond Chandler knock-off. The standard slate grey sky rolls in too. Thereís even a disease related to winter and its dreary effects on human heart and soul.

So then I say again, the best time of year to visit your library is in the winter.

A library in the grip of the holiday season is a marvelous sight. Some libraries are decorating their lobbies in every color of the holidays. You might find a public library highlighting Chanukah books, or materials about the winter solstice celebrations. Oh yes, and of course Christmas materials of every size, color and disposition.

But winter is not just the warm and happy holiday season. The long drag of time between New Years and the ides of March can be all but a hellacious trial. Parents begin to feel their eyes well up with cold tears as they look to their tots and realize they arenít going outside to play and the XBOX is not as entertaining as it promised and the television show with the happy dancing cutesy action figure people is not going to keep the kinder from running down the walls.

So then, I say, for the third time, the best time of year to visit your library is in the winter.

Bundle up the family and get out of the house to a place of education and fun and warm, warm rooms. You can let the little angelic hellions run rampant for a bit while you peruse an art book from Italy, a place where the only snow is for skiing and cold means needing a light jacket.

Winter is when capitalism goes wild. Not just for the holidays either. Think about all the times youíve been bored silly and looking to do something indoors. You go to the mall, to the movies, to the chain bookstore, to the coffeehouse. All places youíll have to drop cash just to come in from the cold. Not so with the library. Come in, sit a spell and read, listen to some music or just relax and people watch.

That last option, people-watching, is a personal favorite of mine. A public library is a cross-section of a community. Youíll see elderly volunteers shelving books, and young turks manning the circulation battle stations. The aforementioned busy parent-type people dashing about following their master/child are there, and so are young people looking for some quiet time away from the stresses of school, work, family, life. In from the cold they are all blown and in the library they all find something that they are looking for and free to boot.

Let the cold weather drive you into the arms of your library this winter.