Tales from a Local Librarian

2. Contemplating Confectionary

I have been working at the library here for two months now, which has given me time to observe, ponder, ruminate and contemplate the extraordinarily meaningful role libraries play. I have also been eating chocolate M&Ms as it has been Easter.

What has struck me is how libraries help shape us. Micro and macro. A good deal of our daily experience is coloured by what we ingest. A good deal of the fabric of our communities is reflected in our libraries. Generations of well-caffeinated librarians have gathered knowledge like you might hungrily gather spilled M&Ms scattered upon a kitchen floor, and the how, why and what of that gathering is fascinating.

Running with this seasonally appropriate chocolate theme, librarians gather together our M&Ms and do powerful things to them. Librarians organise them; by colour, by size, by variety (peanut, English Toffee, Mexican Jalapeño or Thai Coconut?). Some M&Ms are chosen by libraries, and some aren’t (and we need to be constantly questioning those powerful decisions – “why did you leave the red ones?”). Hundreds of years of confectionary is collated and curated so we may make sense of them.

And how we collect, process and interpret these delectable morsels of knowledge has a subtle but incalculable influence on our perceptions of human experience. It shapes who we are. Like Mike Teevee in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, we are products of our diet. I personally like the Oompah Loompahs’ recommendation:

“So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books.”

Happy Easter :-)