Good Afternoon, God
It was just a couple of days ago that I was able to enter my local library — AFTER an absence of TEN MONTHS. It may sound silly, God, but it was a chicken skin moment. I felt like I was entering “sacred space”. The Library is one of the last COMMONS that we have in our culture. Maybe the last non-commercial commons?
I use that term — Commons — but I’m pretty sure some folks have no idea what the term refers to. Well, having read the definition in Wikipedia I can see that I didn’t understand much beyond the 15th century English usage. At that time it referred to pasture or forest land that was shared by all the people in the village or surrounding area. However, this land was “enclosed” (fenced in for a private owner) by parliamentary acts starting in the 16th century. These acts of Inclosure were often enforced by violence. One of the argument was that private “owners” could maximize the yield. But, obviously, it was the wealthy who had the connections to create these parliamentary enclosures. By the 19th century about the only commons left were difficult to access pastures or forests.
So, here is my local library . . . an intellectual commons . . . accessible to all. And the librarians have been entrusted to select a wide variety of viewpoints — while attempting to refrain from material that proselytizes. Not that we (I’m a retired librarian) do it perfectly. But, that is our intent. And, perhaps, our sacred calling?