Back in high school, before I had heard of In Praise of Folly and long before I read it aloud to myself late at night in the Student Union Building in preparation for Dr. Smith’s class, one of my friends gave me a framed quote. It read,
“When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.” – Erasmus
I am very fortunate to be living in an age of inexpensive paper books, to say nothing of ebooks and the internet. I am sure that Erasmus
would certainly avail himself of the public library, even if he should not be writing in the margins.
I’ve loved books my whole life. Books and stories and words. I still enjoy the library, even if I work there. (How fortunate is that?!?) I have been know to max out my library limit. Erasmus might be a little disappointed that I spend more time in fiction than in pursuit of knowledge and philosophy, but he doesn’t know, so I’m okay with it.
True, I borrow quite a few books from the 500s (math and science), 641 (cookbooks!), and the 900s (history). I also borrow a good number of inspirational romances, science fiction, and fantasy. Occasionally, I dabble in mysteries, plain old fiction, or even audio books!
I think my favorite shelves at the library hold the new fiction books. It is not because of their newness, but their interfiling. The nonfiction, of course, sits properly in Dewey decimal order as it will later, but the fiction shelved by the authors’ names. In six months, the novels will be properly segregated: large type, fiction, mystery, science fiction, romance, etc. But for now, all the novels intermingle like a large mixed bouquet.
Some of the books are definitely not my style, but the contrast they provide is even more interesting. Later, people will miss the fun of epic tales of elves and dragons since they do not regularly visit the shelves in the back, where fantasy hides between mysteries and scifi. The romances will be relegated to the back wall where people furtively look through rather suggestive covers. While looking for an inspirational history, no one be drawn to a cozy mystery with recipes in the back. But on the new shelves, who knows what might be right to the book you were looking for?
I like that juxtaposition of genres.
And, when I discover a new friend in the books on the shelves, I can invite that friend home. How lovely is that? After all, Erasmus also said,
“Your library is your paradise.”