THE UNFINISHED LIBRARY
Dr. Lester Simon
I write to associate my name with the suggestion made by Joanne C Hillhouse in The Daily Observer of Wednesday 19 September 2007 that each of us buy a block or whatever we can afford to finish the public library. The unfinished public library is a joke gone too far. A public library is not just a place for reading. We used the old public library on lower High Street over thirty years ago to socialize and chat up each other. We understood that we were in the presence of great men and women whose works and ideas were indelibly recorded and re-recorded when the unique scent of old paper whistled through the air and reminded us to be quiet; to be still and know. We learnt the meaning of silence in a crowd.
Many years ago in Martinique, I was admiring the library so much, someone suggested that I returned at night to see how picturesque it was and the throng of people congregated outside just to admire it and feel good about themselves. I declined the invitation on the grounds that someone would read my mind. Maybe, just maybe, the lack of a public library here, with the equivalent lack of respect for the value of paper, is responsible for all the paper strewn all over the place.
Seriously though, the most important reason for completing the public library is rooted in a very simple but profound lesson we all must learn in a library. When you borrow something, you must give it back for others to use or pay the penalty. Isn’t this what life is all about?