Libraries That I Have Known
Ever since I was a small child, going to libraries have been a major part of my life and learning. Unlike today, when by a simple tap on one's IPAD, you can bring large amounts of knowledge instantly to yourself, 50 years ago it was not so. My love of reading was connected to my love of history and geography as a child. At the age of five, my parents bought me an illustrated history of the American Presidents. I soon memorized them in chronological order, and thereafter, my room usually had several books on history, biographies, and travel books.
The primary place where I visited to pick these books up was at the Westerville Public Library in Westerville, Ohio. I distinctly remember my mother dropping me off at the library when I was around nine years old on Saturday mornings (I was not raised SDA), and then picking me up in time for lunch. Sometimes my cousin, Tina, would come along with me. I would be able to go into the stacks to read biographies of famous historical figures, or look at travel books about Alaska, the Northwest Territories, Iceland, the Falkland Islands, etc. (I liked reading about cold distant places.). A general love of learning and reading constituted my childhood, and being generally a loner, my books, along with listening to my long-playing records, were my constant companions.
Since those early years, I have gotten to know many more libraries. Spending long hours in the stacks at the main Ohio State University Library Building, to practically living at the James White Library, while pursuing my M.Div degree at Andrews University. There were very nice libraries at some of the districts that I have pastored in: Mankato, Minnesota; Pierre, South Dakota; and the North Star Library in Fairbanks, Alaska (Yes, I did get to live in Alaska).
The most precious book that I have ever seen displayed in any library was the Book of Kells, located at the Trinity College Library in Dublin, Ireland. The Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript Gospel book written in Latin, containing the four gospels of the New Testament. Written and designed by Irish monks around 800-900 A.D., it is believed to be the oldest remaining translation of the four gospels in Latin. The 340 folios it contains are simply stunning. It remains one of the great cultural treasures of the Western World.
As the first libraries were initially set up as repositories of previous religious manuscripts, where scholars/monks could go to study and write, in viewing the Book of Kells in Dublin, Ireland, seeing its beauty and precision in writing, the young nine-year-old boy back at the Westerville Public Library had now come full circle. The original purpose of the library, as a place for study, reflection, and meditation on the word of God, had now come fully to my mind as I looked upon the precious Middle Age parchments protected under glass, for all to view at Trinity College Library. As with all things of purpose, beauty, learning, and goodness, libraries are truly a gift of God (Philippines 4:8).