“stay alive by hiding”

Via Letters of Note, this card from Isaac Asimov to the children of Troy, Michigan congratulating them on the opening of their new library:

Isaac Asimov

This one from E.B. White is also a fine thing:

EB White Letter

You can view 97 letters from notable people as PDFs or on the Library of Troy’s Flickr set.

Sad to report that like so many libraries in so many places, the future of the Library of Troy is hardly secure. Remembering my young self in another town, poring over books, magazines and records in a small neighbourhood branch, something that never failed to unearth unexpected treasures…

5 thoughts on ““stay alive by hiding”

  1. Brian,

    As a child I took shelter in the local public library, often against the will and convenience of my guardians. As a matter of fact, my mother went so far as to refuse to escort me to the local library to get a library card. She did this out of laziness–physical and mental.

    My response was to borrow books on my own by putting them into my backpack and walking out. [Note: This obviously occurred in the days before laser-radar detector devices.] I basically stole the books. But, I always returned them because I knew there were probably other kids out there in small town, rural Indiana who also needed to travel far and away from their circumstances.

    Thanks for sharing that Asimov note.

    pura vida,

    GNA

  2. My father hated that I was a reader. He saw it as a sign of weakness and belittled and berated and punished me for it as he did most forms of intellectual activity or aspirations. Reading, for him, had nothing to do with being a man. I took shelter in the library literally and figuratively and was fortunate to have a librarian (more than one) that was wise enough to what was going on that she let me linger and check out books I otherwise couldn’t have and paid the fee to replace my library card when I lost it. Twice.

    I have no idea how my life would have turned out were it not for the library and the kindness of the people in it. When I later worked at a library myself I was struck by how many librarians and non-librarian staff see their work as a mission. I admire that.

  3. GNA, Chris – Thank you both for sharing those stories. Knowing how you both turned out, those sad memories seem like prologue. Free and safe public spaces, the mission of the library… not things to be taken for granted.

  4. I still remember my first library card # 616 – Whitehorse Public library 1957.
    They were big on historical novels, so my later degree in history was only a continuation of wanting to read more on the characters I had read about in (mostly) bad novels.

    I became a librarian and reading stories like those above really explains my decision to go into the field. It’s interesting and you get to help people who need it.

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