Paean to Beautiful Libraries

Chauncey Mabe, Florida Center of Literary Arts says: “Public libraries are like babies: There aren’t any ugly ones. In a way, then, Flavorwire’s round-up of the “The Most Beautiful Libraries in the US” is as wrong as a baby beauty pageant. On the other hand, I’ll concede, it’s always better to have a handsome building than otherwise, if given the choice.

My first library was a storefront on Tazewell Street in the small Appalachian town of Wytheville, Virginia. It was on the way home from the elementary school, and I stopped in almost every day to wander the stacks, take in the heady aroma of book must and chat with the librarian, a tiny smiling woman who encouraged me to read books beyond my age group.

To me, no library can ever be more beautiful than that homely little place where my incipient love of reading was flamed into a full-fledged romance with books. I wish I could call the librarian’s name to mind so I can give her the credit she deserves. I’m sure every reader in the country has a similar origin story.