2007.08.07 Library renewed affection for NYC

Written by David Green.

I love libraries

even in New York


By COLLEEN LEDDY

“If you’re touching me, you’re standing too close.”

That’s what the lady in front of me said as I was inching my way through the security line at Detroit Metropolitan Airport early Friday morning. She uttered those words in a slow, matter-of-fact but not very friendly way, as she stared straight ahead, never looking at me.

I was anxious to get on the plane and to the Poughkeepsie, New York, hospital bedside of my sister, Linda, and I guess I was inching just a little too fast. I instinctively reached out to touch her shoulder as I said, “Oh, I’m so sorry.” Thank God she didn’t respond at all, not even to chastise me for once again touching her.

It was an unpleasant start to the journey and I hoped that it did not portend bad things to come. But when, after taxiing for what seemed like forever, the pilot said we could not take off because they’d just closed a runway at LaGuardia Airport in New York City, I started reciting my Hail Marys a little early.

I could go on and on, talking about all the bad things happening in my life this past week, but I will spare you the negativity and tell about the good. Why I was in Brooklyn for four days is a long story, but the upshot is that my sister is alive and well and won't be getting on a 4-wheeler any time soon—if ever.

By the time I arrived at the hospital she had been moved from the ICU and was being discharged on Friday evening after we’d been told to anticipate a hospital stay until Monday. At 52, Linda is a hearty soul and surprised everyone with her ability  to walk and get around. I arrived intending to be her nursemaid and advocate with my niece, Linda’s daughter, Vicky. Instead we brought her home where she improved even more.

At 22, Vicky is a very competent and attentive caretaker; she should definitely pursue a career in nursing. It was quite obvious I wasn’t really needed, so it was easy for me to leave Linda in Vicky’s care while I explored the neighborhood on Saturday and Sunday.

“I’m very jealous of your little vacation,” David told me on the phone.

He had been exploring the neighborhood via the internet, trying to help me pin down the nearest library. He finally located it—the New Utrecht branch of the Brooklyn Public Library.

Goose-bumps literally rose on my arms when I surveyed my surroundings at  the library, and it had nothing to do with the welcome air conditioning on that 90-plus degree day. Graffiti littered the walls outside, but inside, what an amazing place: lines of people to return books, lines of people to check out books, people at every computer, people browsing in the stacks, people sitting at tables reading newspapers and magazines, people lined up at the desk of the librarian, who sweetly helped them with their needs.

All ages of people, all colors of people, all nationalities of people populated the building. Well, maybe not all nationalities—most people were dark haired; the only blonde person I saw had roots of brown. It’s rare to see natural blondes in the city.

While browsing the shelves I noticed books written in Russian, Chinese,  Spanish. I could have stayed all day in this place that so wonderfully  embraces the peoples of the neighborhood and provides for them. And I hadn’t even gone upstairs, to the children’s section.

I had arrived just after the 11 a.m opening on Saturday but the atmosphere  was the same Monday afternoon when I returned to write this column. I looked more closely at the shelves and shelves and rows and rows of books written in other languages. Whereas on Saturday I only noticed Russian, Chinese and Spanish, on Monday I saw books in languages I never would have fathomed—Urdu, Turkish, Polish—in addition to the more ordinary French and Italian.

The library was a microcosm of the world and I felt so proud to be in this place that so admirably reflected the true nature of our country, a place with a history of embracing and accepting all peoples.

The New Utrecht branch of the Brooklyn Public Library system touched me deeply—and nobody seemed to mind that I was standing too close.

  • Play Practice
    DRAMA—Fayette schools, in conjunction with the Opera House Theater program, will present two plays Friday night at the Fayette Opera House. From the left is Autumn Black, Wyatt Mitchell, Elizabeth Myers, Jonah Perdue, Sam Myers (in the back) and Lauren Dale. Other cast members are Brynn Balmer, Mason Maginn, Ashtyn Dominique, Stephanie Munguia and Sierra Munguia. Jason Stuckey serves as the technician and Trinity Leady is the backstage manager. The plays will be performed during the day Friday for students and for the public at 7 p.m. Friday.
  • Front.F.school
    PROGRESS continues on the agriculture classroom addition at Fayette High School. The project will add 2,900 square feet of space and include an overhead door that would allow equipment to be driven inside. The building should be ready for the start of school in August. Work on ball fields and a running track is also underway.
  • Front.rover
    CLEARING THE WAY—Road crossings in the area on the construction route of the Rover natural gas pipeline are marked with poles and flags as preliminary work nears. Ditches and field entry points are covered with thick planks in many areas to support equipment for tree clearing operations. Actual pipeline construction is progressing across Ohio toward a collecting station near Defiance. That segment of the project is expected to wrap up in July. The 42-inch line through Michigan and into Ontario is scheduled for completion in November. The line is projected to transport 3.25 billion cubic feet of natural gas every day.
  • Front.geese
    ON THE MOVE—Six goslings head out on manuevers with their parents in an area lake. Baby waterfowl are showing up in lakes and ponds throughout the area.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Face Paint
    FUN NIGHT FUN—Savanna Miles sits patiently while Abbie White works on a face paint design Friday during the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Gracie Snead watches the progress after having spent time in the chair. Abbie was one of several volunteer painters, each creating their own unique look. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.

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