Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I have to park where?

I just had one of the happiest inconveniences ever:

I couldn't find a parking spot at the library!

I couldn't believe it! I pulled into the lot behind the library and there wasn't a spot to be had! I decided to continue down the alley to the next street to find a spot to park. I pulled into a spot on the street and walked down the alley with other folks who were doing the same thing I was! I was thrilled! The library lot was FULL! Now, granted, the library lot probably only holds maybe 25-30 cars, but I'm still just grinning ear to ear at the thought of it.

Maybe I should back up a little bit. My love of books and libraries goes back to some of my earliest memories. I remember going to the Washburn library all the time when I was little. I'm sure I wore my library card out. I was definitely a bookish kid - I spent many nights under my blankets with a flashlight, reading well past my bedtime hoping my folks wouldn't notice. (Of course they noticed, however, 9 times out of 10 they let me keep reading.) Anyhow, I had gotten out of the habit of going to the library when I was in high school. This continued through college and law school. I read very little for fun during those years. I already had so much to read for school that I couldn't bring myself to spend even more time reading once my assignments were done. I did start working at Barnes & Noble at age 18, which has continued on and off for the subsequent 12 years, which allowed me to at least be around books, even though I didn't have much time to read any of them. [Kind of like that Twilight Zone episode where the guy didn't have time to read and then the end of the world comes and he all the time he wants and then his glasses break so he can't see. Well, maybe it's not quite like that, but it made me think of it. The Twilight Zone - what a creepy show that was. I digress.]

So when I moved back in with Grandpa a couple of weeks ago I made the conscious decision to go get a new library card so I can read for fun again. I hadn't had a card since . . . well . . . probably Jr. High. I can't even remember when I had used it last and that card is long gone. And I figured that it was time to meet and greet the new East Lake library.

The East Lake library just re-opened after major renovations. The library has been at that location on Lake Street for as long as I remember. Before it's makeover it wasn't exactly the prettiest library you've ever seen. Picture a stack of dull and drab cinder blocks -- not the classic red brick of many other older Minneapolis libraries. The library needed an overhaul - it sorely needed a cosmetic and technological upgrade. The library was built in the mid to late 1970s I think, and it hadn't changed much since. About a year ago they closed the library and started the renovations. It re-opened to the public a couple of months ago. In it's current form it is in a word, fantastic.

It's light, it's airy, there are huge windows with lots of natural light. There are computers aplenty. There is a fun kids section, there is a public meeting room. There is easy check-out, helpful librarians, community and library events - it's everything that it should be. And obviously I'm not the only one who has noticed because I HAD TO PARK A BLOCK AWAY!! You always hear about declining use of libraries and, in turn, decreases in funding for libraries. It just made my heart smile to know that here, in the middle of this wonderfully diverse, inner-city neighborhood there was such overwhelming demand for the library and what it has to offer.

I couldn't find a parking spot at the library. It's the kind of thing that just makes you think that for one shining moment, the world is alright.

1 comment:

Austin said...

You know, your Twilight Zone metaphor is probably the best thing I've ever heard to explain the frustration of working at Barnes and Noble: surrounded by all those books for eight hours a day, unable to read any of them.

And I realize I'm a bit of a freak, but I prefer libraries without natural light. I was very irked when the library near me renovated a few years ago-as a kid I could wander around in the stacks, lost in the shadows and ignorant of time. Now there's all this bright light streaming in, ruining things...