Every branch of the Seattle Public Library has been closed all week. It's a seven-day mandary unpaid furlough, and it's been in effect for the last several years. True, it saves the city over $600,000. True, for the majority of us (those who aren't library employees, anyway), the closure means more of an inconvenience than a hardship. But that doesn't mean it's not a pretty massive bummer. We love our libraries here. We need our libraries here. Here, the library's home.
"Libraries are the last vestige of 'free' public space, the last place people can go to get out of the rain without being required to buy something."
That's why I was so delighted to find out about the People's Library, an outdoor volunteer library that popped up tenaciously -- for one week only -- to offer Seattleites some love.
"This book is for you, You can keep it, you can return it, you can give it away. You can donate it to a school. You can donate it to a public library.
"Libraries are more than books. They are a refuge, a cathedral, a home for dreams and fantasies. Libraries are a place to perform research, a link to services, an entertainment venue, a cultural center."
"Librarians provide tech support, serve the houseless and the mentally ill, teach the disenfranchised how to use the Internew, plunge toilets, change light bulbs, spray for ants, dress as Winnie the Pooh, proofread resumes for library patrons, provide pro bono therapy, coordinate fundraising efforts and library events. Librarians are heroes."
"There is no problem a library card can't solve."
We visited the Seattle People's Library on Wednesday.
As you might expect of a library, there were books there! Two volunteers approached me within five minutes of my arrival to explain that the books were free and that I was welcome to take as many as I wanted.
Oscar found a Mo Willems title he liked.
Brandon, true to form, found a stack of stray books that he felt needed a home.
I didn't take these pictures, by the way. We were photographed by a bearded stranger who chatted with me and gave me his card before he left. He was a really nice man, and after a coupla years of noticing people I don't know snap pictures of my children without so much as a by-your-leave, I appreciated his decorum.
(Alex Garland Photography, friends.)
It was the kindness.