My local library has an issue on the upcoming ballot.
It’s well beyond my job description to get blatantly political in this space, but I think I’ll have the support of Last Call Trivia when I ask you to SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY!
This specific issue is local, but part of a national trend. When the economy is bad, library funding seems like an easy cut (“We just don’t have the cash!”). When the economy is good, it can also seem like an easy cut (“Why should we have to pay for EVERYONE to use this? Let’s save that money and buy our own books/movies/computers/etc . . . . “).
A simple google search will give you plenty of reasons why this is a really bad idea, and how libraries actually help the economies of their communities and the people who live there. The best summary I have seen on the subject is a one-line quote from Eleanor Crumblehulme, a librarian in British Columbia, Canada: “Cutting libraries during a recession is like cutting hospitals during a plague.”
Reading about this gets me thinking about all the libraries in my life, the role they played, and how they contributed to my life in trivia.
The signs were there in kindergarten. Other kids were looking at picture books, but I only had eyes for the Moonbeam books by Selma Wassermann. It’s a series of books from the early 1960s about Moonbeam, a chimp who winds up as an astronaut in the early space program. (You can think of it as a fictionalized account of the career of Ham the Space Chimp.) I found a batch of these as an adult, and they hold up pretty well.
Between these books, and a Saturday afternoon library showing of the Rankin-Bass animated version of The Hobbit, and the nerd seeds were planted early in my soul. Libraries are what led me to discover the Time-Life Mysteries of The Unknown, and one of the first places I found Mad Magazine and a rack with dozens of Mad Paperbacks. (Mad probably deserves a column of its own – one of the reasons I enjoy trivia is because learning facts and current events were the best way to get the jokes.) I found the SF/Fantasy section in the adult section and wound up reading my way through the shelves in alphabetical order – Asimov to Zelazny.
My fate was sealed.
Trivia: Morpheus, the incarnation of Dreams in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, has one of the coolest libraries in fiction. It contains “every book ever conceived, written or dreamt of.” Who is the Librarian?