I can tell you about a place that welcomes everybody, a place where once you walk through the door, you need never be alone again, a place where you can also find the most profound solitude. I can tell you about a place that sometimes leads to glory.
If you have ever read this column before, you'll have an idea what I'm talking about -- not just the public library (surprise!), but the larger world of literature.
It's not that I never write anything useful in this column. Letting people know about library doings is, I trust, a public service.
But lately, I've had a powerful need to document a few things that are REALLY useful. For instance, here's one that I got from reading a kid's book about a Jewish grandmother: when you break an egg, and a piece of the eggshell falls in, the best way to get it out is with the rest of the eggshell. Spoons, knives, fingers just don't work. An eggshell does.
When one of our patrons asks for a book, we usually buy it. Sometimes we can't.
Many titles are no longer in print. Borrowing it from another library -- a process called "Interlibrary Loan" or ILL -- is the only way to get it. Sometimes an item is unusually expensive, or of little general interest. In that case, ILL is more cost- effective. (Even then, if such a book is requested several times by more than one person, we usually try to pick it up.)