I have made no secret of my love of public libraries; I don’t know anyone who does any amount of recreational reading who doesn’t have some story of finding a book on a chance perusal of library shelves that affected their taste in years to come, or who needed some service offered by their local library in a time of need. These thoughts are a defense of sorts, an apologia general in favor of these institutions that benefit us all – even if you’ve never set foot in one yourself (you need to fix that, by the way – go to your library).
Public libraries are one of the single best ideas humanity has ever produced and successfully implemented. To have a public warehouse full of every printed media imaginable, with access granted freely to every person regardless of status or education, is an unambiguous boon to our collective lives, an uncomplicated and straightforward benefit to every single citizen. You can access – free of charge – a catalog of newspapers and magazines, nonfiction, fiction of every stripe, reference materials, maps, histories, movies, music, and more at your convenience. When I consider how much we collectively gain, how much is available to me personally, through these institutions, I genuinely marvel at the fact that something so wonderful, so powerful, is available to us all without costing anything to any individual beyond a small tax (a small tax, by the way, that I guarantee you don’t even notice).
And let us imagine that you are an unfortunate soul who doesn’t enjoy your library. Perhaps it is underfunded, perhaps you don’t like books (!!!), perhaps you live too far away from one to justify a trip – whatever the cause, let ‘s assume you don’t like your library, or at least that you don’t ever plan to make use of your library. It’s still a benefit to you to have it open so that others can use it. Maybe your doctor used a library for a quiet study location when she was in school, or maybe your mechanic used his library as a resource as a child and got interested in cars. Anyone who has to learn anything – that is to say, everyone – benefits from the existence of these places.
Some scoff at libraries as old fashioned or obsolete. “We have the internet,” they say. “Why would we still need these spaces?” To this skeptic, I offer three rebuttals.
There will always be a place for libraries, and there always should be. Any system or development that ends up without free public libraries is a bad system, and would be unacceptable to ever implement.
I walked into my local library yesterday because I needed a DVD of a film I planned to show in class. The library, of course, had the movie. While I was there, I passed by a display of books on beekeeping. Why was it there? Was it merely seasonal? Did one of our librarians have an interest in apiarian pursuits? I don't know, and it doesn't matter. It was good to see the book about bees and how to tend them.
I passed by a manga version of Macbeth. I pulled it from the shelf, and flipped through it. It was great! I put it into the "return if you're not checking out" bin. Nobody hassled me at any point during any of this. No one tried to make me pay money for anything, no one tried to sell me anything, no one told me to leave my seat. I was able to be at peace in public enjoying a wonderful adaptation of one of my favorite stories, and this is available to me every day.
I love my library. I hope you do too.
That's all from me, for now.
Tell your story!
-J. E. Ayers
It's Gonna Be May
Skate the Seeker
Work continues with the good people at Thinklings on book 2 of the Rag & Bone Chronicles. Once I get the final copy back, it’s another read through for me and then off to the printers for final formatting. Keep an eye out; we’ll likely have a preview chapter out before the release day: September 12, 2023.
With school trying its best to wind down, I’m neck deep in Gatsby. We’re finally through the book, and now it’s on to Baz Luhrmann’s kaleidoscopic retelling for a series of comparisons between film and novel. This movie never gives you a chance to stop and think, a ceaseless whirlwind of spectacle and drama. I love it, and look forward to it each year.
I’ve got a foot in Westeros as well, in Storm of Swords for the fourth read-through. I think if I read the books enough, GRRM may finally finish book six. Probably not helping, but I’m gonna do my part to try. I also picked up a copy of Estranged from my local bookstore, and it’s a fun graphic fairytale for middle-grade readers. I recommend it for anyone who’s a fan of fantasy.
I’ve finished the first draft of my side project, and I’m nearly done with my first read-through. This pass is mostly to take note of what needs fixing the most – inconsistencies, flagrant narrative cheating, plot troubles – though I do take the time to tighten up the prose with this pass, just as I do for each of them. Plenty of work to do yet. I doubt I’ll have a finished manuscript before it’s time to work on R&B 3, but I plan to get as far as I can in the process.
I’m looking forward to taking my son to see the Mario movie; I’ve heard it’s great fun, the exact sort of thing I’d like to watch with him in preparation for his birthday this month. I’m also greatly anticipating the sequel to Breath of the Wild on the Switch. Tears of the Kingdom looks awesome, and I am doing my best to avoid too many spoilers in the meantime. I’ve started playing Minecraft, and it’s fun in survival and creative modes, providing another distraction for as long as I care to enjoy it.
That’s all from me, for now.
Tell your story!
–J. E. Ayers
Jeff Ayers writes books that are pretty good.