The comforting world of the library

David Busch

The brisk cold of winter sends shivers through my whole body. I pull my jacket close; my arms are crossed, hugging my body to stay warm. The library is getting closer. My mind, though, is distracted. The encroaching due date for my research paper is coming, and I have yet to formulate a logical thesis. I turn the corner into Risman Plaza and soon my mind awakens to the moment as a rush of wind smacks me in the face. I grab the door to enter the library and the warm comfort of modern heating allows the blood to flow back into my frosty nose and fingers.

Waiting for the old, rickety elevators to arrive, I look up at the news headlines streaming across CNN, telling me how to view the world – creating the social narrative of America. I shake my head. The elevator finally arrives, and I cram in with six other students. We all look around, shuffle our feet, some enjoying the silence and some thinking about their assignments.

Eighth floor. I begin to roam the endless stacks of books to find sources of defense for my evolving thesis. Occasionally I look up, and I realize that I am both lost in the rows of books and lost with the direction of my paper. Then, I step back even further and I truly take in all these books. I get distracted easily – William James would call this the “Stream of Consciousness.”

My paper is now at the back of my mind, and I begin to think about all the authors of these books who dreamed of a different view of the world – the hope that their words would sway the opinions of present and future generations. Their ideas were unique in their times – some prophetic and some absurd. Their words lasted, though; transcended history and are resting in my hands – challenging me to think about my present moment, my ideas and the ideas pervading through America and the world.

As I delve back into my research, I read about the famous and the not-so-famous. I read about their confusion and their confidence. What made them think? What influenced them? And how do their words relate today? Relate to me? Reading them allows me to construct a world of the past and my own world of the present. I am viewing their world through their eyes, but I am constructing it with my mind.

Arms full of books and my backpack protruding from my back, I waddled down to the first floor. The calm silence of fellow students studying is comforting.

As the semester rolls on and the deadlines near, many students will seek silent study in the library. When you sit there lost in thought, lost in mind – step back and appreciate the library. Appreciate the fact that there is a grand place on campus to quietly study, to do research and to discover a world forgotten. Take time to rediscover lost music, art and literature. Take time to appreciate the workers that organize the books and help students with their research projects. Take time to appreciate that Kent State’s library is the tallest building in Portage County. Climb to the top floors, look out the window and take in the soon-to-be snow-covered rolling hills of Kent.

In a world filled with streamlining images and videos of wars, poverty, celebrity scandals and sports that distract and confuse the mind, the library offers a haven of rest, a haven of thought, a haven of peace that refreshes, reinvigorates and strengthens the mind. That’s the comforting world of the library.

David Busch is a junior history and psychology major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]