Saturday, November 12, 2016

Libraries and Ray Bradbury

While I am not self-educated in the same way as Ray Bradbury I do have a love for libraries based on my experiences that resonate with his.  From an early age I had a special relationship with libraries.  First it was spending summers visiting my hometown library for reading program books and others (I loved the history of British kings and retain an interest in history).  Later it was the High School library and memories of driving to other towns and the Whitewater College library for research papers.  When I entered the University of Wisconsin at Madison, from my Freshman year thru Graduate School, I often was ensconced in the Memorial Library stacks reading, even if not always for a class.  Since then my personal library which I began with my parents help at an early age has expanded every year.  With this in mind you may better understand why I was moved by the following excerpt from The Paris Review's interview with Ray Bradbury.

"I’m completely library educated. I’ve never been to college. I went down to the library when I was in grade school in Waukegan, and in high school in Los Angeles, and spent long days every summer in the library. 

I used to steal magazines from a store on Genesee Street, in Waukegan, and read them and then steal them back on the racks again. That way I took the print off with my eyeballs and stayed honest. I didn’t want to be a permanent thief, and I was very careful to wash my hands before I read them. But with the library, it’s like catnip, I suppose: you begin to run in circles because there’s so much to look at and read. And it’s far more fun than going to school, simply because you make up your own list and you don’t have to listen to anyone. When I would see some of the books my kids were forced to bring home and read by some of their teachers, and were graded on—well, what if you don’t like those books?

I am a librarian. I discovered me in the library. I went to find me in the library. Before I fell in love with libraries, I was just a six-year-old boy. The library fueled all of my curiosities, from dinosaurs to ancient Egypt. When I graduated from high school in 1938, I began going to the library three nights a week. I did this every week for almost ten years and finally, in 1947, around the time I got married, I figured I was done. So I graduated from the library when I was twenty-seven. I discovered that the library is the real school." 

The Paris Review, Spring 2010

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