A Plea for the Local Library


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Ever need something from a library? Yes, it’s certainly rhetorical.  Maybe not often—and even possibly long ago.  But when you wanted and needed that item, wasn’t it the most pressing and insistent thing on your mind?  And you did get it.  From the library?

But then why isn’t their question for a simply modest donation?  I mean, we don’t pause for a second to drag out a credit card to pay for an $8 coffee,  and that money ends up in a urinal mere minutes later.  As one used to say in polite company “just #$%^&* away.

But the $50 we might drop in the glass jar by the door? Ends up helping pay for a few books much needed for the children’s library.  And those books will probably get circulated 24 times or more until they have to go upstairs to the mending table to be put into sufficient condition to repeat that cycle.  Imagine doing something similar to please the sets of parents for those 48 kids.

Well, good news!  You can.  Drop the $50.00 by the door.  If you don’t; well, there are those 48 kids who will just have to be disappointed.

Sometimes less is more.  I think this is one.

In parting I remember the hours I used to toil away up on the seventh tier of Widener (the one in Cambridge).  Graduate work in English Constitutional History.  I still remember hauling one very dusty tomb down to look at the last time it had been taken out.  April 1935.  My vantage point was 1976. 

Thinking of the cost, and care, of keeping that book here for 41 years, untouched and undisturbed—no one threatening to deaccession it—I begrudged the tuition somewhat less.  Yes, somewhat.

So, to brutalize and paraphrase (sorry, John Donne), “ask not for whom the donation request is made.  It is made for you.”

William Tecumseh Sherman Butler
Mystic, CT