Monday, November 29, 2010
Royal Watch - And Some Thoughts on Libraries
I am officially on Royal Watch, now that Prince William has popped the question to his lady love, Kate Middleton, and the wedding date has been set (April 29 – the same day of the month of Charles’ and Diana’s wedding).
I am getting ready to celebrate, and I've already decided what I am going to wear. It may be in the middle of the night here, but I won't be wearing pajamas!
I couldn’t be more chuffed (that’s Brit-speak for happy), as I have been a fan of the Royal Family and all things British since practically birth. When I was growing up, I remember books around the house about the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, so I think my mother must have started me down that road. I was born the same year as Prince Charles, so she probably had some thoughts about her little princess marrying a real Prince.
And of course the "British Invasion" of the 1960’s, and the Beatles, also set my imagination awhirl, as I fantasized about marrying Paul, wearing cute Mary Quant dresses and moving into a lovely home in the British countryside with Paul.
(I know this picture is not the Beatles - this is "British Invasion" part.)
Since then, I can’t get enough of the UK – TV shows, books, visits, movies…. I have been watching the British soap Eastenders for over 25 years, I have adopted such expressions as knackered (tired), peckish (hungry) and adverts (advertisements, which I never have to watch because I have TIVO), and when I hear a British accent, I swoon. If I have lived before, it had to be as a Brit.
What does this have to do with libraries?I
I’m not sure, but I will think about that while I run upstairs to put my Princess Diana doll back into her wedding dress.
It was Diana who most sparked my imagination.
I loved her from those first moments as Shy Di and as she walked down the aisle to marry Prince Charles.
Like millions of other Americans, I woke up in the middle of the night to watch the wedding.
It was cause for celebration.
I followed her through the births of her boys
to that sad interview where she revealed there were “three of us” in her marriage to her even sadder death.
I was up all night watching the funeral and crying my eyes out as her two boys walked behind her coffin with Harry’s card on it that said “Mummy.” I feel choked up just thinking about it. I’m still not over it.
Lest you think I don’t have much of a life (well, I kind of don’t), I am not alone in my fascination with Diana. Diana evoked something in people, something far greater than mere celebrity watching. I just felt happy to be in the world with her. Loved her, loved her clothes, loved the work that she did, loved her sons.
And now we have some things to celebrate again --
A Royal Wedding...
And Diana’s legacy…a son who will be King but a different sort of King. Yes, there will be the traditions, but Diana strove to bring her sons up knowing something of the world besides those royal traditions, to have a purpose beyond being just Royal.
And watching Prince William and his Duchess mature and rule will bring some of Diana back to the British Monarchy (I told you I didn’t have much of a life).
So how are libraries related to this?
…let’s see…here are some things I was thinking while getting my Diana doll ready for the big occasion.
Libraries Rule! Well, that’s true but, no, that won’t work.
Libraries are majestic…well, yes, but…mmm…
Actually I think the fascination that many Americans have with Royalty is the fact that we don’t have it as a tradition. Look how we tried to turn the administration of JFK into a sort of royal reign by calling it "Camelot."
Traditions move and uplift people.
Take for example, the Coronation of Elizabeth II. It still gives me chills thinking of her walking down the aisle at 23 with the chorus resounding all around, ready to embrace her destiny and carry out the royal traditions– ahem, not that I am old enough to have actually seen it at the time.
But traditions are also comforting.
It is comforting to know that from generation to generation certain things will always be there, that they can be counted on, that they will happen again and again.
And that’s what brings me around to public libraries.
They are innovative and awash in technology, but the pillars that hold public libraries up are the positive traditions they uphold as a haven for free thought and learning that embodies what democracy is all about.
Generation to generation...
Public Libraries will always be here (despite what people say about the Internet, trust me).
Public Libraries can be counted upon to offer a warm, welcoming environment for children to learn reading skills, do their homework and just laugh and play during family story times. They offer free services, quality classes and programs and a wide range of materials that cover all interests and points of view.
Public Libraries will again and again work to meet current community needs by providing materials and services that help people make sense of the world they live in.
We may not have the tradition of a Royal Family, but our free and open public libraries keep alive a tradition that embraces freedom: freedom to read, freedom to watch, freedom to seek whatever information one needs to live one’s life.
And that is also something to celebrate.