Mondays at the Downtown Public library are now like Mondays at my favorite eatery in East Nashville (which shall remain nameless as I do not wish to find you, dear reader, occupying my preferred seat…): closed. This is sad news. Sad because Mondays are the days when I have decided to read all the periodicals I do not want strewn across my desk, den or bathroom floor. Reading periodicals in the Downtown Public Library forces upon me a discipline I cannot muster at home. I make excellent notes and record reference information with efficiency. This prevents me from having to remember which page of which periodical in which pile in which room is that bit of information for which I am desperate. Too, subscriptions are expensive. Of course, some of these are available online, but to be in the company of other readers and those seeking shelter offers a rich bite of community.
Being in the Library is like being in a favorite restaurant, though conversation is not as welcomed or expected. Still, catching the eye of one, like you, who knows the great joy of public reading spaces is warming in an odd sort of way. It is to share a precious secret hideaway in plain view. Only very briefly do you allow yourself to wonder why more people are not aware of this refuge and the refreshment it provides to so many in so many different ways. Inside your head, the movement of the idea to compel folk from the hedges and highways to come into this fold die for want of a second. For here, too, you find a preferred seat.
While I still am perplexed at Nashville’s architectural predilection for some idealized bygone era over against an awe-inspiring articulation that portends our promising future, I love the beautiful spaces in the Downtown Public Library. The Grand Reading Room is exquisite and could charm the most obdurate among us into reading. A lovely courtyard provides respite for eyes weary from moving across the page, a perfect spot for a sandwich and a picturesque site for lush conversation. Nooks here and there woo you to nestle in them with some deliciousness.
For want of money, the Downtown Public Library now provides neither shelter, refuge nor sustenance on Mondays. Others will remain open, but what a sad and unwelcoming site those closed doors on Church Street will be as people seek to welcome the opportunities and possibilities of a new week. As with other adjustments we have made because of similar constraints, we will persevere through this one and, hopefully, find in it the opportunity to open spaces in our homes and hearts we, perhaps, have only just now become aware are needed.
You can read the article from the Tennessean by clicking here .