post by Candy Mulligan, 2019-2020 The Educator Collaborative Associate
A Letter From The Books
We hope this letter finds you all safe and doing well during these unprecedented and uncertain times. It seems that each new day has the potential to bring new questions and confusing answers. There certainly is a lot to sort through right now, and honestly, we wish we could help. There was a time when you would come to our shelves without hesitation. Whether you used that paper-thin library card or you waited in line to pay for pages hugged by a shiny, new cover, we do feel like we used to see a lot more of you than we do now. We loved helping you escape from your stressful lives. We loved helping you research a problem you were trying to solve. We loved inviting you to explore times of long ago, allowing you a sense of perspective to help you better understand why things are the way they are today. But here we sit. Patiently waiting. Many of us collecting dust on shelves that have not been touched or leaned on or walked past by very many of you during these last few months. We miss you, and we think you might be missing us, too.
We know that some of you have been searching for us online more often these days. Some of you have even started to prefer listening to us as you take those walks around the neighborhood. While we know it’s tough to compete with the Amazons and the Audibles in the world, we do have a favor to ask you. Would you consider doing your part to help us reconnect with as many of our readers as possible? The first thing you can do is patronize your local library once again. Many of our friends who live in libraries have shared that the doors are open, and they are anxiously awaiting your return! While it’s certainly odd to see people’s eyes browsing our titles over all kinds of face coverings, we are happy to see that you are taking that step for yourselves–and for others. If you are not up for strolling the library aisles, we understand. You might feel better about the curbside pickup that many libraries have been offering. We urge you to take a look at that GoodReads list you have been curating. Those of us who have been inching up to the top of your Must Read list will be waiting for you.
Some of us also live in quaint, local bookshops, and we can promise you that we definitely have been waiting for your return. We get it. Sure, it’s easier to buy things with the click of a button–but it also feels really wonderful to support the corner shop that has been in the family for over one hundred years. There’s just something special about getting the chance to come in and look us over. We know you miss running your fingers across our spines as you try to justify why you need to purchase three of us instead of just one. Not only are you investing in yourself, but you are supporting the economy! This is also a time when you might be forgetting what wonderful gifts we make for others. Do you know someone who is expecting a new brother or sister or perhaps a new baby of their own? Picture books make the most wonderful gifts! We love nothing more than feeling a family member’s fingers flip through our pages as they read a baby to sleep at night. Know someone who is getting married? A practical cookbook or a lovely coffee table book can make a thoughtful wedding gift. We really do make wonderful gifts, much better than that InstantPot which is likely to spend more time sitting on a shelf than we do!
The sad truth is that we also know that many of you, even before these troubling times, may have never really been able to spend much time with us. Having a library card is a privilege. Having the money to buy a new book is a privilege. Both are privileges that some do not have. We spend a lot of time thinking about the hands that never get the chance to hold us for reasons out of their control. Many of you have been doing a lot of decluttering during these months at home. We urge you to look through your own shelves. Consider sharing those books with others who may never experience the need to declutter multiple shelves of books because they have none to call their own. You might also consider forming a group of a few friends who have similar reading tastes. You can each purchase a single book and swap the titles with one another so that everyone has had the chance to read them all! Times are not easy for many right now, but the comfort of a good book is one that all deserve.
Some of us can see you on your phones as you half-stare at the display of anti-racist books nestled in the window. We see you reading the latest rant on social media. We see your shocked expression as the latest Twitter notification runs across your screen. And we see you watching the news as it unfolds before your very eyes. This, too, is why you need us. We are the ones who can help you to dig into those thoughts that have been nagging at you. When you read, you go beyond just accepting the world around you because someone told you what to think or how to feel. Only you can decide how you feel, but it’s information, from multiple perspectives and different sources, that can help you come to that decision with confidence and empathy.
We really do miss you. We mean it.! We promise that when you are ready to come see us again, we will be waiting for you. Just don’t forget to wear your mask.