“There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the Earth as the Free Public Library -- this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration." --Andrew Carnegie
"It's funny that we think of libraries as quiet demure places where we are shushed by dusty, bun-balancing, bespectacled women. The truth is libraries are raucous clubhouses for free speech, controversy and community. Librarians have stood up to the Patriot Act, sat down with noisy toddlers and reached out to illiterate adults. Libraries can never be shushed."
I balanced the study guides that looked more like phone books than reading material against my chest and under my chin and felt my way up the steps. There were too many papers and materials in my arms to risk looking down to see the edges. Looking for the quietest, remotest spot in the library, I found myself at a shiny brown table with vinyl covered seats lined up in rows. Here, I thought, there will be quiet.
I was wrong.
Libraries are full of noise. There are kids running around, middle-aged men asking for help with the Internet from librarians with flashy earrings. A woman in modest Muslim dress teases a man she asks to a party. I can't prove it, but there were distinct 'meows' coming from a bag brought in by a couple who looked cold and tired. At one point, I swear I heard a harmonica.
The LSAT was winning. I had five minutes to check out my materials. So I admitted defeat and gathered my things. It was on my way downstairs I noticed the racks of CDs. The new car has a radio and a CD player -- something I didn't know how much I missed the last six months until I was fumbling with buttons and enjoying commercials. I browsed through rows of jazz, blues, comedy and classical and was suddenly aware of just how noisy libraries can be. All I know is, my car is loving Natalie Cole. And she's anything but shushed.