Making a difference

On a recent walk with my dog, we were exploring a new path when we came upon a small grove of pine trees. It was impossible to resist walking into it. Immediately, it felt like I was transported to childhood days when I would spend a decent amount of time staring up at the underbelly of the one towering pine tree in front of our house in an urban section of the Bronx. The feelings that were evoked were ones of infinite possibilities. That tree seemed to stretch into an endless sky, making the world around me disappear as I settled into the sense that anything and everything was possible. 

In Matt Haig’s “The Midnight Library,” the protagonist, feeling as though her life is not worth living, finds herself the sole visitor in a library in which the clock never budges. Her guide, a wise librarian from her school days, instructs her that all of the books on the shelves are different lives she could be living. It’s up to her to explore the alternate ways her life could unfold based on her choices.

Many of us have wondered, “what if?” If I had made this decision, instead of that, would things have worked out differently? In the end, we are a product of the stories, and the choices we have made for ourselves. The moment we realize that, often, we have the power to create new realities that could be the most profound moment of all.

For me, libraries have always served as a portal to what is possible. As a teenager, I worked in the local public library, and would linger in the career information section. There was a series of books that featured different careers. I would pull out book after book, reading about all of the options that could exist for my future. I religiously read the trade publication, Advertising Age, thinking that I would one day work as a copywriter for an ad agency. As an adult, I love reading both literary fiction and memoirs, which have provided me with new and familiar lenses with which to see the world. 

Princeton Public Library has about 30,000 cardholders. What is it that draws people to the library? I’d like to think it’s all about the possibilities; the possibilities of solving a problem, or discovering something new, or making a connection with a person or a resource that can help move someone forward. It’s the books, the programs, the information that is freely available to help make a difference in someone’s life. Those differences don’t just happen once. They happen on a regular basis. That’s why our staff becomes accustomed to seeing the same community members, repeatedly. It’s also why a lot of us do what we do. When was the last time you visited the library? We would love to see you.

Photo by Michael on Unsplash

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