Spanish, French, or Italian dictionaries, some audios, a children’s fairy tale or two. Local demand for materials on learning language is generally low. But it’s good to have a few resources because knowing a bit of another language can give depth to how we hear & use our own language, and it gives us a glimpse of how others might interpret and name the world. Effective communication builds connection and understanding.
Language and history help us determine who we are in relation to others, and it gives us a sense of where we’ve been and, hopefully, where we could all be together in the future. If language is about communication (and we have much to talk about together), then the study of history provides the signposts of our experience which we must heed so that we are not necessarily bound to repeat it! Our history collection reflects how we try to come to terms with an often difficult or grievous past which can change our course and culture (To End All Wars, by Hochschild, 940.3; or This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War, by Faust, 973.7), and gives us a glance at pieces of our past which influence us greatly but which are not always a part of the common information handed to us (Notes on a Lost Flute: a Field Guide to the Wabanaki, by Hardy, 974.1; or Paine’s The Sea and Civilization: a Maritime History of the World, 910.45). This is all so creatively written, entwined with personal stories of soldiers, sailors, explorers, laborers, and historians, which make times past come alive for us again.
Any classification system, whether it is Dewey or Library of Congress or a scientific classification of organisms, is merely a tool (often highly imperfect) to organize the chaos of information, opinion, and belief, and then hopefully help us make our way to the knowledge and wisdom we build in the process of making our lives. It lends structure & order to thought and
learning, and allows us to look at it holistically, to see some connections. Then maybe it doesn’t all feel quite so chaotic anymore.
A final note, speaking of organization: we now have our Maine fiction collection downstairs in the main room, come check it out. We are seeing the use of these wonderful stories go way up now that they are right in plain view. We have moved all YA (young adult) books out of the adult fiction shelves and moved them to their own space upstairs in the Dolloff room. We hope our teen readers will like having their own collection housed together, and can use that space for quiet browsing, and then perhaps spend some time sitting at the table to read a bit.
I’m reading Molly G. Manning’s When Books Went to War, an account of efforts to get small cheap editions of books into the hands of soldiers during WW2. It got lots of attention from various book blogs, and I’m enjoying reading about soldiers’ reactions to various titles. What are you reading as Orion journeys across the clear winter night sky?
…Mary Anne Libby