I recently submitted a proposal to a soon-to-be published library anthology on librarians and stress and included in my proposal was the requisite biography. As I wanted to not only be witty but also true to who I was, both professionally and personally, I included the following line: “Her life’s goal is to visit a library in every place she visits.” While I certainly have visited libraries over the years in places I’ve traveled, it was never a goal, a mission…until now. I realized however, that I would need to be somewhat realistic with this mission. (When one has a planned trip to somewhere like Disneyland, I’m not about to search out libraries even though I’m sure the city of Anaheim is home to some great ones.)
But whether it is a library like this:
I would like to visit them.
And for all you non-librarians out there reading this, I thought I should provide a very brief but informative background on different types of libraries.
-Public library (It exists to serve everyone ranging from the newborn baby who enjoys putting board books into his mouth more than actually being read to to the slightly cantankerous older patron who doesn’t understand how the automated card catalog works and longs for the days of the paper card kind.)
-Academic library (Any type of library in the higher education world, i.e. undergraduate and graduate students. While there certainly are the dedicated and earnest ones who actually come to the library to research and do work, others often use the library’s padded seating to chat, put on makeup, and even to sleep between classes. Academic libraries at a university will often have more books than you can ever imagine, usually in languages you never knew existed.)
-Special library (This is any kind of a library that is not public or academic, so a library at a law firm, hospital, historical society or other type of unique institution would qualify. These kinds of libraries usually have resources that are of no interest to the general library patron demographic but are still vital all the same.)
Later this year, D and I are headed to Portugal where we’ll be spending part of our stay in the capital of Lisbon, a city I know has some fantastic libraries including the famous Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal (National Library of Portugal). National libraries differ from public libraries as they rarely allow citizens to borrow books, but from a tourist’s perspective what makes them so neat is that their collections often include rare, valuable or significant works. We’re also going to New York City in November and even though I have been there dozens of times, I have never visited the main branch of the New York Public Library in the city’s midtown neighborhood on Fifth Avenue, even though it is one of the most famous libraries in the world. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965 and has been featured in numerous Hollywood films including Ghostbusters and Sex and the City.
I think it’s a rather neat mission I’ve assigned to myself since it combines my professional and educational background with my favorite thing to do, travel. Hopefully I’ll have much success with it and I’ll keep you posted with any new libraries I visit on my travels.