I spent quite a bit of my day leafing through books on Hawaiian psychology, ancient family traditions, lomi lomi (intentional Hawaiian healing massage), ho’oponopono (the Hawaiian process of reconciliation and forgiveness) and la’au lapa’au (Hawaiian herbal medicine) – all thanks to the Hawaii & Pacific section at the Hawaii State Public Library (pictured above).
The public library in Brooklyn is pretty sweet from the outside as well, even if their actual physical collection is not quite as impressive. Which isn’t to say I’m complaining! I couldn’t be more grateful for the books they do have, as well as the free workshops they provide on business plans, language acquisition and talks with reputable authors. What they may lack in book selection, they make up for with their online offerings, ranging from standardized test preparation to the latest in academic journal publications. Having a membership there is a real blessing.
When I was younger, I always frequented the Ewa Beach library, partial inspiration for a blog I wrote during my last trip home. The smell of the books, the infinite possibilities that lay within that small air conditioned structure – it was the perfect remedy to hot sweaty days on the fenced elementary school playground.
In fact, public libraries (with books in English!) were a big reason I decided to move back to the states!
It’s obvious to say it, but I will anyway: libraries are damn good for communities. They offer invaluable opportunities for people to come together and share in their knowledge and wisdom, it levels the educational playing ground (no $100k debt after a library education!), to socialize, to explore the fictions and facts of any worlds they choose, to find a job, or to simply use a computer. And for the less liberal-minded (or more linear thinkers?) out there, a Florida study found that public libraries return $6.54 for every $1.00 invested (the link includes quite a few studies proving the ROI of libraries). The bottom line is libraries rock.
“There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration.” ~Andrew Carnegie