I hadn’t fully realized, until visiting New York City in June, that libraries are more than lovely places to enjoy time with books. They’re home to all sort of activities for children and adults. They’re free and welcoming sites for people who are far from home. They’re repositories for our collective culture.
Public libraries are a refuge from weather extremes that can isolate people indoors. And they’re used by people of all walks of life, making them some of the most delightfully diverse places on earth.
I stumbled on the Battery Park City Library while walking around the city in search of more traditional tourist fare. I hadn’t planned to visit a library while in New York, but I was genuinely gleeful when I looked up to see the orange library banner that marks its building.
I knew I’d find friendly faces, cooler temperatures and interesting information inside. I hadn’t realized at the time that it’s the first New York Public Library branch in Manhattan to be “LEED certifed.” Looks like even libraries are going green.
I learned after traveling back to Phoenix that a proposed New York City budget for fiscal year 2012 had proposed a $40 million cut in New York Public Library funds, but that the budget approved on July 29 (the day of my visit) restored $36.7 million of that funding.
Sadly, public parks in other parts of the country have not fared as well — which left families unable to enjoy their bounty during the recent holiday weekend dedicated to celebrating our many freedoms.
Temperatures in Phoenix rose to 118 degrees the day I returned from New York. After walking several miles a day through interesting streets and neighborhoods, I was eager to get out and stretch my legs. James cautioned against it, knowing I’m not accustomed to walking in such high heat.
I realized then that I’m living in a very indoor-oriented culture. I’ll be looking for ways to change that, and am grateful to know there is always at least one place close to home, my local library, where I can explore the many stories that make up our individual and collective lives.
Coming up: My “Peanuts” pilgrimage