February is "Love A Library" Month and today (February 7) is the birthday of Charles Dickens. It seems appropriate that the birth month of one of our greatest storytellers should be chosen to honor libraries and all that they represent.
I mentioned this on facebook this morning and Cindy Louden, of the Pearl S. Buck Writing Center, commented that Dickens was Pearl Buck's favorite English author. I didn't know that, but it makes perfect sense. Both are fine storytellers, who create characters so real that they reach out and pull a reader into the book and into a time and place that is probably very different from their usual habitat. They entertain us and, somehow, make us see past cultural differences to the commonalities shared by all humankind.
Both also have a keen social conscience. I challenge anyone to read Oliver Twist and not want to save the unwanted children of the world. Can anyone read The Good Earth and not be aware of the importance of family to sustain us through hard times?
Dickens and Bucks are just two of the many great writers who remind us what it means to be human. And that's just fiction. Think of all the great non-fiction works that preserve the discoveries that have been made through the centuries. Without libraries, would the stories, the ideas, the discoveries, have survived? Or would each generation have to start over? I suspect many of them would have survived, but doubt that they would be accessible to any except a fortunate few. That would be a shame.
So - visit a library this month and, while you're there, thank a librarian.