Missing the Public Library

The main room of the Oak Ridge Public Library reopens today.  It's been closed these last three months for installation of LED lights, energy saving, no doubt.  I hope the new lights don't kill the serene atmosphere with glaring, over bright efficiency.

A library is a tender place: a nurturing womb, an incubator for dreamers, a refuge from the cold of winter and the heat of summer; and for many people, an island of tranquility in a bickering world.


 A library is also a community of sorts where regular patrons quietly acknowledge each other with a nod or smile, where librarians become familiar helpers and friends and where deeply thoughtful souls, both living and dead, inhabit the shelves and freely share their insights and stories with all comers while demanding nothing in return.


 Libraries are holy places.


As a little girl, the Oak Ridge Public Library was my home away from home, my retreat when I needed a place to go.  And I needed a place to go fairly often.

I'm one of the lucky ones now: I no longer need a home away from home.  The home I live in with my husband and son is, thank God, an island of tranquility and I am grateful for that.


So I don't go to the library every day the way I used to.  In fact, I don't even go every week.  Yet, I have felt vaguely rattled and disturbed while the library was closed. I guess old habits die hard. Emotionally, I still like to know it's available in the background, a sort of emergency escape hatch, just in case some unforeseen shit unexpectedly hits the fan.       

And let's be honest.  I'm sure there are a number of people for whom the library is what it used to be for me: an escape, a near daily refuge, an island of tranquility in an acrimonious world….or, as the case may be, of late…in an acrimonious Secret City.


As City government seems to many of us to be devolving into disturbing and dangerous territory with the current City Council and the so called 'investigation' of the Oak Ridge Police Department, the library remains one of the quiet and 'safe places' in an increasingly hostile, cacophonous, and fissuring little burg.  


And so it goes, in the Secret City.

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