The library closed today.
The books have all been shipped off to places where they will do good. Some to other libraries. Some to charities. Some given away. Everything checked out is gone, free to the people who wanted them.
We destroyed the book drop and left a sign that told people the books were theirs. Nobody reads signs, though, so we also put up a little free library. The small box keeps the books safe and people can take them as they want. There may be no funding for a real library, but the community still enjoys sharing books.
The shelves are bare. Like the books, some go to charity and some go to other libraries. The man from the scrap yard laid claim on what’s left of the metal and the courthouse has visions of fancy law books on the old wooden display cases that held treasured tomes. Without the books, the library’s skeleton bares itself, hollow and cold and empty.
The computers are promised to the schools. Twenty-five, not counting staff machines and servers. The staff machines and servers will have their hard drives donated to the local college archive to be backed up as a community record, the people and what they read. The library catalog contains everyone and all the items they consumed from the county. Those hard drives contain the community.
All day, people came and took and used, as always. Some teared up. Some joked. Some came from out of town. All were people that grew up here, that poured their time and energy and tax dollars into using this building and the materials in it.
Mrs. Ball wished us well and took our entire collection of Danielle Steele.
The Salvatore family filled their arms and the little cart they rolled behind them with the milk crate and the baby’s carriage full of all their favorite books, all the reference and easy books they had homeschooled with. They ran over with illustrated guides and Curious George.
Mr. George, the grumpy old man with the combover, remembered his password and did not say anything inappropriate to the reference staff. We found that most disturbing of all.
The final patron of the day sat at the computer for an hour. From out of town, he did not ask about the bare shelves or the teary-eyed people. He just needed to check his email.
After closing, I opened a bottle of champagne and we sat and laughed about our building, what we had made and continued. Each department had something nice to say about the other, these coexisting parts that ran the machine. We did a final walk through and each left, one by one.
I sat alone on the circulation desk, feeling the smooth wood worn down by millions of books sliding across its surface. I drank deep from the bottle and listened. The shelves creaked and moaned, their burden’s lifted. The stillness filled me. The library should not be this quiet, so I yelled.
Long and loud and hard, I yelled until I was hoarse. My duty was done.
The Banned Library closed today. Thank you all for being such wonderful patrons.
Book Reviews and the Story Time will continue, but not as frequently. Everyday life will keep on going at sillyabyss.com. Everything else is done as I move on, maybe to something new or maybe to a new library. Either way, thank you for reading.