Celebrating Libraries

Today I found out that nestled inside National Poetry Month is National Library Week, which begins April 12. This is like having a truffle inside a truffle—both chocolate-chocolate truffles, of course, none of this white chocolate stuff or lemon filling. (Hazelnut cream is acceptable, in case you were wondering.)

Libraries are some of the most magical places on earth. To honor them, here are just a few of my favorite things about libraries:

  1. You can learn anything at all for free—you don’t even have to pay for an Internet connection.
  2. You can hang out as long as you want without buying a cup of coffee.
  3. Sitting in the stacks feels like curling up in a hobbit hole. There is nothing cozier than taking a book off the shelf, pulling up the little stool that’s there to help you reach the top, and getting lost in a story surrounded by all those other stories resting inside the quiet bindings.
  4. My sister works in one.
  5. They create community, whether it’s through traditional programs like kids’ story time or more recent inventions like Science Café, libraries offer a space for people to gather, get to know each other, learn, and create.
  6. They give kids free food and other prizes for reading.
  7. Their aura of mystery and possibility, as described in this poem by Charles Simic.

In the Library
By Charles Simic

for Octavio

There’s a book called
“A Dictionary of Angels.”
No one has opened it in fifty years,
I know, because when I did,
The covers creaked, the pages
Crumbled. There I discovered

The angels were once as plentiful
As species of flies.
The sky at dusk
Used to be thick with them.
You had to wave both arms
Just to keep them away.

Now the sun is shining
Through the tall windows.
The library is a quiet place.
Angels and gods huddled
In dark unopened books.
The great secret lies
On some shelf Miss Jones
Passes every day on her rounds.

She’s very tall, so she keeps
Her head tipped as if listening.
The books are whispering.
I hear nothing, but she does.


You can read more about Charles Simic on the Academy of American Poets’ website.

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