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I'm the Local Gal in Richmond, Indiana, exploring my hometown and heart. I write about all thing local, sometimes global. It's a small world after all.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Why I am Fine with Paying Library Fines

"Your library is your paradise." -Erasmus

There are few cases in which being disorganized or not on time makes me feel good about myself. Honestly, I can only think of one particular case, which happens to be reoccurring.

I am notoriously bad at returning books to the library on time. There have only been one or two times that the library charges were off. Once a book was returned, reshelved but not properly checked in. That actually happened twice. Did I get miffed? A tad bit, but it was resolved swiftly when I produced the book that had been declared missing. It was several spaces out of place on the shelf and the librarians were just getting used to a computer system. The librarian was cool about it. Librarians are cool, as a rule, I think.

I take the books back. I do. Other people might want to read them, even though most times it seems to me that I am checking out very old books or very niche books that to my knowledge have never had a waiting list. I brought them home, as a young person, in tall stacks. I have been known to rack up fees in the double digits. I am talking about numbers in the tens place! Not a nickle, not a dime, not a single dollar! I pay up. I pay up happily.

Richmond, Indiana has several libraries. There are small libraries in our schools, campus libraries, even a few churches have libraries. Between my husband and I, we have quite our own library, but the public library is my special favorite. I remember going to Morrison Reeve's Library with my dad. I remember staring down the antique spiral staircase on display in the lobby and making myself dizzy. I remember the imposing portrait of the founder, the colorful displays in the children's library. I even remember the voice of the children's librarian as I filled out my first library card. I had the same library card for years. I did not get a new one until I was a teenager. It made me embarrassed to see the terrible signature of a six year old unaccustomed to signing and unaccustomed to such a formal strike of individuality and independence. Was it the first time that I felt like my own person? It seems likely. Now that I am older, I wouldn't mind still having that dog eared, beige card and I would not feel so embarrassed though I have a crisp, white one with a more careful cursive signature in my wallet today.

The libraries always impacted me through the books that were chosen to grace their shelves and by the experiences I had through our special lending systems. The first time I lost a school library book and the burning shame I felt upon discovering it on our family shelf, too late. Was I now a thief? The time a young girl held the bar open for me at the exit, and I got my first and only (thus far) black eye. Ah the perils of an avid early reader! The time I was terribly bored in the RHS library and discovered a very old book that helped foster my love of etymology. Every time a librarian ever shushed. The smell of the books, the dust jackets, the millions of lives I feel that I've led personally and the millions of endings I have grieved over in books. The feeling of care when carefully preserving a text and hopefully returning it so that it will be there again, not just for me but for every member of this community. Immortality is unattainable, but one can at least taste it in books.

Many years later I discovered other gems, first Lily Library on Earlham campus followed by IU East's library. I loved to study at Lily. I loved the newness of it. At MRL, I always seemed to gravitate to the same sections. I know the map by genre and subject. At Lily, all of the books and all of the layout was new. It was where I discovered philosophy. Seeing Des Cartes, Nietzche and Spinoza lined up- such strange names, not knowing how to pronounce them and the difficulty of trying to absorb them all and yet being magnetized again, believing that if I could just retain and know pieces it would be better than not ever trying. It was where I soaked up history, I recall stories of monks leaping from balconies as crowds of the religious cram inside a building to view perhaps the toe of a saint or a fragment of the cross- not even standing room only at such an event! I remember turning summersaults and picnicking on the lawn outside, after hours of poring over books and combing for details. IU's library experience was much more utilitarian, as I only used the library as needed for assignments. Maybe to find a textbook for class- always indispensable and there when I needed it.

Each library is special in its own way. But MRL is the first for me.

Have you ever been to a community that has no public library? I have, and where there is no public library there is a strange emptiness that I could not live with there. So when I bring my books in, often late, we happily pay a fee because our library has always been there for me and today it is there for my children, as it should be. And we remain ever thankful and grateful that knowledge at a library is free.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Richmond Politics: Complimentary Commentary

"I've always wanted to be considered an upstart. I just never knew where to begin."
-an original Local Gal-ism

Everything I learned about politics I learned from Duck Soup:

So according to the Palladium Item, there is a contention between the self styled Democrat and the Republican Mayoral candidates of Richmond, and this is deemed an electoral "cross road".  Cross road shmoss road, I say. It looks more like Wayne County's beloved radio personality has wrongly turned on a one way street (Richmond is rife with them) by not toeing a party line. Some of us who grimace at the the mention of politics might actually find that refreshing. Others who take part actively may be completely boggled, as protocol has not been followed. Our local Democrats don't recognize the fresh face before them. Who knew he was a Democrat? Who cares? Well, the Democrats may, but for everyone else we'll see. Surely I'm not the only one yawning at the two party system. If it's national, it's a dated circus. If it's local, it's a hoot.

So did the Local Lady jump on a bandwagon by sharing Dave Snow's Mayoral announcement? Yes and no. Why do I think this is a good idea? Dave Snow is accessible to Richmond's youth. If his candidacy manages to pull in twenty previously non active voters locally, I still say good idea and thank you very much! His running has potential to pull in much more. Whether he wins or no, this could be good for Richmond where voter turn outs have always dragged out the same civic minded groups (usually the elderly and then occasionally me). If young people take more of an interest and bother to find out where the city building is and what actually goes on there that would be grand. Maybe the kids will register to vote, then who knows what great things could happen next.

Is it fair this small town celebrity begins with such hullabaloo? It isn't his fault he knows his way around the Youtubes and the Twitters. Will this win the election? Not if the status quo is held at the polls. Pappin might not be a familiar name to a regular Richmond whippersnapper, but she will be familiar to long time local voters. She has experience, and I suppose after serving, you are for better or worse a tried and true politician. Who ever wins will have to get over any distaste of politicking as it may come with the job. Whomever does win will hopefully always prioritize the serving side above the elbow rubbing (be it necessary or no). As the act of running in itself takes much effort and care, it's likely our candidates will do just that- whatever their political affiliations. I admire persons who serve the community publicly. It can't be easy and constituents aren't wildly grateful on a daily basis.

In local forums hosted on Facebook, the people have spoken. They are looking for a candidate who will do less trash picking among the neighborhoods, let's just hope that after Mayor Sally Hutton leaves office they themselves are willing to keep them picked up.

Whatever may happen, three cheers for our little democracy. The next election is shaping up to be interesting and will hopefully sell the papers well. All eyes on the starting line, who will we vote for? Let's wait and carefully examine the platform(s) our candidates will stand on. When we know bringing jobs to Richmond will be the standard fare, as it should be, it will be interesting to see how the candidates differentiate. May the best for Richmond win.

<3 the Local Gal


*You may vote in Richmond and you may not be elderly. Congratulations, I'm right there with you.

*You may be elderly and never vote. That's okay too, and being elderly, I believe in your right to complain even if you are not politically active. You've lived long enough to earn it.

*You may be a Democrat and you may welcome Mr. Snow with open arms. You may be a Democrat and not. Who hugs who is not my business.

*You may be a Republican. Is this your tea party or mine?

*You may be young or old & take offense at the ageism in this entry. If you're older, comment and share thine wisdom. Maybe you're a teenager who knows where the city building is- get involved and say something below. 

I guess all I'm trying to say is that I recognize my entry is full of sweeping statements. I like to keep a clean house so that's just the way it is- however the dust bunnies may feel. My broom may not apply to you. Don't take it personally, please, but feel free to comment anyway.