Monday, October 14, 2013

The library

On my recent trip to Washington DC, I had the great privilege of having a personal tour of the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress. This is the building that sits on Capitol Hill, just behind the Capitol Building and adjacent to the Supreme Court Building. Our national library's prominent location on the most important patch of land in this country, symbolizes our culture's committment to knowledge and learning.

Or should I say symbolized?

This Flicker page has been making the rounds of social media this past week and has over 100,000 views. It consists of a series of photographs of the Mark Twain Branch of the Detroit Public Library which has been abandoned. According to this site, the library closed for repairs in 1996 but never re-opened; asbestos abatement was cited as the main stumbling block. Currently the building is awaiting demolition. Photographs from both sites show that despite a crumbling interior, the library's shelves contine to be filled with books.

I find it ironic that in a city like Detroit, where abandoned buildings are stripped of every inch of material that folks could get a dime out of, nobody seems to particularly care about the books.

This afternoon my son and I spent a couple of hours in one of our local libraries. As usual, the magnificent facility was underutilized; blame it on the beautiful weather or the internet. As we were leaving, I commented to him on how lucky we are to have libraries and particularly such a great one at our disposal. I hope my message sunk in.

He may be called upon someday to fight to save it.

No comments: