If you ask any frequent Library user—or anyone who regularly volunteers their time on behalf of the Library—why the Library is important to them, you’ll probably hear motives that, when boiled down, resemble each other more than they differ. I was exposed to books and the near-infinite scope of humanity’s written word chiefly by my Aunt Sue, a long-time elementary teacher in the Des Moines area, and supreme advocate for childhood bookworm-ism. Sue got books in my hands; and maybe more importantly and in a casual, not-on-purpose way, she intimated how books could be acquired and just how incredibly much material was out there to be perused. Through her influence I became a precocious natural scientist (depending on the day, a zoologist, a geologist, a paleontologist, or an incipient cosmologist). My ever-growing collection of references on mammals, reptiles, rocks and minerals, and whatever else, described for me a wondrous reality. I was so enamored, so completely taken by my passion for these subjects, that my quest for information soon transcended any work-like quality and became my chosen medium of entertainment. Reading was then and forever a part of my gestalt.
What motivates me to serve on the Drake Public Library Board of Trustees derives from the formation of my worldview through books as a young person. I believe the public Library is necessary to any community as the best,—and possibly only—most democratic way to offer all citizens the opportunity to discover and shape their worldviews. In the world of 2014, access to the varied media by which we take our information and entertainment has become of the highest importance if we are to maintain a society of informed individuals with well-formed concepts of how the world around us actually is. To allow the user to sample and pursue the collected ideas of all of written human history—free and without bias—is the hallmark of the Library alone.
I jotted notes on the ideas above while passing a slow day glassing desert bighorn sheep in the Gabbs Valley mountain range of western Nevada. On this trip I packed a paperback of David Foster Wallace’s non-fiction. With all the space and quiet, and this blog piece on my mind, a quote of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s begged my attention: “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” Maybe it was reading Wallace that invoked Wittgenstein, or maybe it was the library/worldview thinking; but, at any rate, the quote must be included for its own sheer validity. And so, I’m proud to write to you on our new Drake Public Library website, another tool for accessing the noble and unfettered warehouse of ideas called the public Library.
President, Drake Public Library Board of Trustees