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For Your Imagination

A brief ode to libraries

Libraries are magical places and their importance in the context of free democratic societies should not be undervalued. They are places where knowledge is vast, free and accessible to everyone. In our local Pestalozzi Libraries, I’ve noticed great care in having books and storytellings available in multiple languages.

Increasingly, the very buildings where libraries are located are becoming carefully curated architectural spaces, filled with the light and sanctuary we often associate with places of worship. Here in Zurich, the Santiago Calatrava Law Library for the University of Zurich is a great example.

University of Zurich Law Library. Project by the renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.

The famous novelist and poet Maya Angelou sang about libraries in this fabulous clip, describing a library as a rainbow in the clouds. She talks about how libraries helped her overcome deep trauma and gave her hope. And her description of the care taken to beautifully repair damaged books with fabric and shingles is truly heartwarming. Elsewhere, she said, “I always knew from that moment, from the time I found myself at home in that little segregated library in the South, all the way up until I walked up the steps of the New York City library, I always felt, in any town, if I can get to a library, I’ll be okay. It really helped me as a child, and that never left me. So I have a special place for every library, in my heart of hearts.”

Another beautiful homage to libraries comes in the form of a short animated memoir from StoryCorps of Ronald Clark whose father “was the custodian of the temple of knowledge” and the deep impact on his life from growing-up literally living in a public library.

Last but not least, we bring you this clever illustrated history of the American public library from our friends at Citylab.

So if you haven’t visited your local Pestalozzi Library recently, why don’t you stop by?

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