Meditation: On Libraries

Meditation: On Libraries

Apr 1, 2007
Books nearly made me drop out of school in first grade. I'd learned to read early, but my school had strict library rules, and though I was bored to tears by Dick and Jane, the second- and third-grade books were off limits. So I took to phoning my great-grandfather from school each morning. I'd complain of headache, he'd come get me, and we'd play and read happily at his house each day.

Though Gramps never ratted me out, after several weeks our ruse was discovered, and the outcome was one of the great triumphs of my life.

When I explained to my mom and dad that I didn't like school because they wouldn't let me read there, they transferred me to another public school. On my first day, the teacher marched me into the school library. "Do you see this child?" she asked the librarian. "This child is allowed to read any book she wants to." At that moment, I was seven feet tall, and my education was secured.

If you've taken a Cure, you'll know that one of its central tenets is that your home has energy in it that is unlocked when you work on it, and novelist Masha Hamilton has given me a great way to unlock the energy on my bookshelves and put it to good use giving other people access to a library.

She'll be reading from her new novel, The Camel Bookmobile, tomorrow at 7 at McNally Robinson, but there's a real camel bookmobile, a portable library for pastoralists:

It operates from Garissa in Kenya’s isolated Northeastern Province near the unstable border with Somalia. Initially launched with three camels on Oct. 14, 1996, the library now uses 12 camels traveling to four settlements per day, four days per week. The camels bring books to a semi-nomadic people who live with drought, famine and chronic poverty. The books are spread out on grass mats beneath an acacia tree, and the library patrons, often barefoot, sometimes joined by goats or donkeys, gather with great excitement to choose their books until the next visit.

The Camel Book Drive is set up to support the bookmobile's efforts, and on that site you can see pictures and a video and get all the information if you'd like to donate either books or funds for a new tent to protect library patrons from the desert sun.

(To All Meditations)

Photo credits: Briana Orr and Masha Hamilton

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