As a child, I spent a good deal of time in the Brighton Branch of the Boston Public Library. It was (and still is) a "modern" building, built in 1969 to replace a venerable old brownstone. The link above includes a slideshow of the old facility and its patrons, as well as still photos of the new facility, with a teen cafe-style lounge, and reading nook (and I note that the old interior photos always seem to include folks reading books, whereas the new photos show no patrons...odd). I can't help but think the older building had a charm and warmth that I never felt in the newer one. Still, the children's librarian was cheery, and I soon discovered that she had a special place in her heart for C. S. Lewis.
I had discovered Lewis in 2nd grade, under the influence of a young teacher who came in as a maternity replacement halfway through the school year. My school was a public school, so she never mentioned any Christian themes in the Chronicles of Narnia as she read them aloud to the class. After that introduction, I read them and reread them over again, always thinking there was some message just out of reach. A few years later, while sitting in the library's children's reading room, I overheard some of the 6th graders from the local parochial school asking the librarian for The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Somehow in the conversation I overheard her say the name "Jesus" and the whole message dawned on me. How could I have been so dense?
Imagine my delight, then, when visiting the library at Thomas Aquinas College last week, and seeing a well-stocked Lewis section.
As we left, we passed the checkout desk to pay for a book (they were having a discard sale) that L picked up on Danish literature. We were delighted to find this admonition:
A bit later in the day we were back in the library for a tour with the librarian, the very amazing and enthusiastic Viltus Jatulis. L whispered to me (it was a library, after all) that it would be worth going to TAC just to enjoy her company in the library. High praise. I wish I had taken a video of her presentation and tour of the rare book collection; her tour should be on the TAC website so students get an idea of the kind of place this really is--a place where learning is cherished. I could spend years in that room alone, perusing the medieval manuscripts!