Sunday, February 08, 2009

"But above all things, truth beareth away the victory"

Even before I began my Happiness Project I knew that there were lots of books on the subject. Many can be found at the local Barnes and Noble. However, wishing to avoid bankruptcy and loss of living space I went to the library. Or more accurately, I went to the library's online catalog. I typed in happiness under the "subject" search and got over 200 results. Some of my favorite titles include: "Taming the Gremlin", "I'd Rather Laugh", "The Joy Diet", and "Money Can Buy Happiness". I requested several titles one of which is already available for pick up. I love the library. In fact, I can say that the library makes me happy. It's an ancient idea, going back even beyond the legendary library at Alexandria. Here in the U.S. there was a town library in Boston as early as 1636 (the current Boston Public Library was founded in 1852) and Ben Franklin created the first subscription library which allowed people to buy shares in the library. The money raised was used to buy more books. Libraries funded by taxpayers were created by Andrew Carnegie who's foundation financed the building of almost 1700 libraries. Thank goodness for all of them. I especially like small town libraries. They don't have a giant collection but they have charm and grace and they really smell like books. You can curl up in a corner and disappear into the pages of a novel. It's not so easy at the Mid-Town branch of the New York Public Library. It's filled with fluorescent lights and plastic chairs and way too many people. But don't get me wrong, it's wonderful too, just for the sheer number of books and other materials available, about 7 million items total in 86 branches. Even this number is dwarfed by the Library of Congress, considered to be the largest library in the world. It holds 138 million items including books, maps, sheet music, and manuscripts. According to their website they add 10,000 items to the collection a day. Amazing.

New York Public Library Main Branch

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