The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX

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April 4, 2011

Grady Easley: Reading and learning at your library

HUNTSVILLE — My library, and yours, is alive and flourishing.  Your owe it to yourself to know and explore the valuable resources inside those walls.

Forget about the pandering possibilities of easy electronic automatic access.  Would it not be fun to go in a library?  You could lay hands on books, look at offerings from various authors, and wander through any number of learning venues.

It would be a joy to explore without the constraints of external schedules.  Recently, I lost all track of time as I contemplated offerings from Isaac Asimov and Arthur C.  Clarke.  Therefore, I took one of each and three by Ray Bradbury.

Indeed, I just finished reading, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”  This was not an easy read.  It took several nights, many hours, and was never interrupted by a commercial.  

After careful consideration, I believed the book was better than the movie. There are other offerings just as good and they are free to read.

Using library resources all over America, two uncles traced my ancestors back to France.  The uncles had to leave Oregon, go to Alabama, Georgia, and Virginia to complete the research.  One of the direct (great) grandfathers was involved in land deals with the grandfather of Thomas Jefferson.

Sad to say, they were unable to discover any long-lost holdings of land that is now worth millions.  They did stir, however, the dust of history.

Really, the library experience opens doors you never knew existed. I am something of a library regular and know many employees who always greet me by name.  Unknown visitors are always greeted with a hearty smile.

This level of dedicated service remains the same with part-timers and volunteers.  My experience with volunteer organizations leads me to recognize and appreciate the dedication shown by library employees.

Recently, I discovered my family ancestors were Huguenots and had to leave France.  My grandparents were married at a Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Texas.  In addition, I was able to recognize and document the contribution of an uncle during the War of Secession.  He was killed at the battle of New Hope Church.

While I do enjoy and appreciate the library, the recent and ongoing construction is not an outstanding example of city planning and foresight.  Even so, the buzz of activities on the inside continues at a high level unaffected by construction.  

.My every visit finds computers humming, pages being turned, and the level of activity seems most reasonable to me.  This oasis of quiet is soothing.

For those with limited funds and incomes, a library buys access to a world worth millions and billions of dollars.  The electronic immediacy of expensive cell phones has not replaced or supplanted an open door that spins knowledge while spanning years and centuries.  

Fortunately, you can make an investment in the library by buying a brick or two.  Current library plans call for a patio or walk carpeted with personalized bricks.

For an amount less than the cost of a tank of gas, you can have your name remembered as a permanent part of the library.  Buy one or more as gifts for your kids and grandkids and be remembered.

Reluctantly, I have concluded that education in our public schools is not for everyone.  At the same time, reality suggests that real learning or the acquisition of knowledge is an ongoing process that needs no wall, no exams, and no certified teachers.

I know, and have known, brilliant individuals leading teams in research laboratories.   Others have managed manufacturing facilities.  Their skills and knowledge allowed them to approach problems as opportunities to develop solutions.

For some intuitive individuals, the formal education process is not an optimum solution.  Indeed this formalized process may repel gifted individuals.

Come visit your library.  You need no money.  Ready access to current periodicals and newspapers is at your fingertips.  Even the chairs are comfortable/

I subscribe to a few periodicals that cost over $250 a year in total.  If I visit the library often enough, I can read and learn more and pay less

As a matter of fact, let me make a suggestion.  The next time you go to the library and check out a book, feel free to mention my name.  It will not help and no one will be impressed.

This means nothing to the library employees.  Knowing me conveys no special privileges and you still have to pay for overdue books.  Someone may mention this column and that is worthwhile.

However, just by associating the library with my name, you will be joining a rather select group.  Not everyone knows me and quite a few do not like to admit it.

A nearby library requested, in writing, that I not honor that establishment with my presence.  I no longer donate books to them and I strongly urge your increased support for our Huntsville library.

Read something.  You might even pick up a bit of useful knowledge.  A little bit of learning can be a dangerous thing.

Grady Easley has retired and can be reached at

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