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Library

      On the Tenth Anniversary of the Broome County Public Library:

It is ten years this library has stood,
open to all who would attend their minds
with the same dedication shown their daily work,
their bodies, their spirit.

Today, we celebrate this place with millennia of ghosts,
We are no less wanderers — and wonderers — than the ancients
who sought, as we do, a vision in a changing world.

This place is a link in a chain that binds us
To the great library of Alexandria,
To the public libraries of ancient Rome,
To the town and city libraries Andrew Carnegie gave America,
some with "Let There Be Light" carved above their door.
Offering knowledge of the world, free for the asking.
Free. As freedom is the passionate fruit seeded by education,
The right to learn and share the written word,
In ink set by the warm lamps of scribes and printers.

We are a long history
Scrolls begged, borrowed or stolen by the Ptolemies.
Codex hidden during the Dark Ages
Volumes kept from tyrants and book burners
even to this very day, this very moment.
We protect and revere the word
Honoring a wealth that far exceeds
anything dreamt of by a thousand years of Pirate Kings.

So, we can walk these aisles, remove a book from a shelf
call up our collective memory on microfiche and computer screens,
Become more than we were when we entered these walls.
Where Plato and Socrates debate on a bench in the lounge,
William Faulkner leans over our shoulder, Jack Kerouac laughs in our ear,
Whitman sings his body and Stephen Hawking, his mind.
Books are bright candles in every darkness,
This library, an unlocked safe where all are welcome
to keep that which is most valuable: Understanding.

The voices of history whisper ...
Every time a citizen learns the thoughts of their forefathers.
Every time an immigrant finds the poems of his ancestors
translated, side by side with English,
Every time a timid child offers up their card,
Carries off some small piece of this knowledge,
this understanding, this library,
We can be proud to have
added light to the world.

© J BARRETT WOLF