Monday, September 11, 2017

The Man Who Loved Libraries

When I was growing up, the library was magical to me.  (They still are).  My local public library was a wonderfully built neo-classical blonde stone building (wikipedia commons pic below) full to bursting with books which could take me anywhere and anywhen and I had a card of my own, and by gosh I knew how to use it! And that smell... it still transports me to a seriously happy place.

The point is, my first, beloved, public library was a Carnegie library, built with funds from the Carnegie foundation.  I've always been fascinated by the concept of noblesse oblige which seemed to be expected of the wealthy and powerful in all but the most modern times.  The concept is sadly outdated now (with a few exceptions).  Andrew Carnegie was the quintessential bootstrap success story, running messages, working his way up through the ranks, investing and becoming hugely wealthy and influential.  He gave quite a lot of that wealth back to communities all over the world by endowing over 3,000 libraries along with many other charitable contributions.

This book, by Owlkids Books , is a beautifully illustrated short biography aimed at young readers.  The writing style is unforced and not patronizing.  The art is lovely and simple and compliments the story very well.  The author also doesn't shy away from writing about the inherent dichotomy of funding open and free access to libraries and learning and supporting communities on the one hand, and his anti-worker, profit driven, union breaking activities on the other hand.  I enjoyed reading this small book very much and recommend it unreservedly.  Delightful book, well written.

Finally, below, 'my' beloved hometown library.  I wonder if the librarians knew how much they shaped me and comforted and inspired me?  I never really got to tell them, but I thank librarians and teachers often to this day, and it really started with the people in this library.

Five stars

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher.

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