On seeking silence, solitude in the library


Having seen a string of too many non-productive writing days, I recently left the comfort and confines of my home office for a new writing spot — the library.

(Flickr: geekadelphia)

(Flickr: geekadelphia)

It’s something I’d not done in at least a year. I’m not sure why as I have always been drawn to the books housed within its walls and lining the cavernous halls.

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From the time I was a young teen, I would visit the public library on my walk home from school to spend an hour or so reading, thinking, browsing, day-dreaming.

I was lured there by the secrets, the stories, the smells and, above all, the silence.

The quiet is what really gets me.

Ironically, the library is the only place where I feel free of the pressure to make words.

Instead, I receive them. I absorb them into my soul and let them stir up my dreams, spark my imagination, silence my busy mind.

I am free, no compelled, to turn off my phone. I am permitted to sit still. I am encouraged to let the outside world fall away and take refuge on a lonesome island where I can sink my toes into the sand and think on new ideas.

Perhaps one of the things I love best about libraries is that they are filled with people like me — people who love to read and write and who appreciate the peace and quiet.

Libraries have been around for awhile. Some historians place their origins dating all the way back to roughly 2600 B.C.

With such an ancient, needed and well-loved service, I worry sometimes about the health of our libraries, hoping they will not fall prey to the crush of modern convenience, where a pick and a click bring you to a Wikipedia entry or a quick download delivers the latest and greatest titles to your Kindle.

I hope that people will always find the kind of peace and reflection that I have found there. That they will be warmed by the stories, heartened by the centuries-old traditions and made whole by the countless of souls who’d similarly sought knowledge perched on the lines of shelves.

When is the last time you visited a library? Have you ever given yourself over to the quiet in such a place? Do you have memories, as I do, of thumbing through the card catalogs?

Kerri S. Mabee is managing editor at Learn more about her at

Kerri S. Mabee

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