Reading is Fundamental

National Librarian Day, books and government cuts.

By Arthur H. Gunther III

BLAUVELT -- What better topic on April 16, National Librarian Day, than to hail those women and men who encourage reading? The old slogan, “Reading is Fundamental,” is apt since the flow of ideas and free thinking, without which democracy and progress cannot exist and flourish, derives from absorbing one word after another. Librarians enable us to do that.

It is ironic, though, that most librarians, and I am including all who work in public libraries, are paid little relative to other professions, and often there is required masters degree training. Libraries are also among the first to receive government budget cuts. Yet not one foot has ever gone forward in the chasing of our own nation’s manifest destiny without at least one leader who is well-read.

Yes, he or she may have been self-schooled, self-motivated in picking up a book, reading and absorbing words, using those words to formulate thinking and to foster inventiveness, but somewhere before there was a keeper of books who loaned that person the first reader.

Often it’s your mom who is your first “librarian,” since she reads to you, and today dads are there as well. And both may take a child to their first library.

When I was a child, lucky to grow up in a small village of the 1940s and ‘50s where the tiny public library was built by the Finkelstein Family, many an otherwise boring day was spent walking a mile and a half to sit amongst the beautiful wood shelves filled with so many books. Miss Heitman, the librarian, let kids look for themselves, and I soon found the biographies I liked best. While I was not to prove a good reader -- years later after great difficulty in early college years, I learned that I had a reading/comprehension deficit -- the love of words began with that library and that librarian. It proved, though subconsciously at first, to be the incentive to a career using words as a newspaperman. It was also through books that I was able to develop a shorthand way to compensate for my learning deficit.

I also married a woman who, besides teaching, has been and is again a part-time librarian and who reads constantly and who filled our home with books. The first son, a teacher, absorbed that atmosphere so much that his own being, family and house are infused with reading. His children are lucky to walk to their own local library in Nyack. The second son, though not a reader as such, uses words in special ways in his job at the Smithsonian.

I have a friend in Colorado who also chases words and who has been a librarian and teacher. And in my youth I knew other strong readers.

So, I have much reason to thank all the librarians out there who have affected my life, and so do you.

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Rose Marie Raccioppi April 24, 2012 at 02:47 AM
YES, the magic of words upon a page... transport to times and places wondrous and ever embracing. Words as echoes of vision, echoes of dreams yet to be lived, echoes of moons past, echoes of imaginings ... ever present magnetic charms. The treasures of a book known and held in loving gratitude... these the gifts given, these the gifts received.
art gunther III April 24, 2012 at 01:14 PM
Well, Rose Marie, you certainly use words well, their own "magic." Thanks.
Rose Marie Raccioppi April 24, 2012 at 01:56 PM
Thank You Art, I too appreciate what you have put forth. As one who has specialized in developing reading programs to address the unique abilities of those deemed dyslexic, I have come to appreciate the deeply ingrained meaning of each letter that makes each word. Yes, indeed, reading is an inspired endeavor and one that awakens the past, embraces the present and imagines the time yet to come. Allow me to invite you to peruse: http://www.2learnnow.info - you will find my 'take' on reading and the dyslexic learner. In celebration of National Poetry Month, a visit to http://www.apogeepoet.blogspot.com would be most welcomed. Best always to you and yours...


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