I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Would you live in a library if you could?

Delores E. Topliff
When I was a young mom and grad student with two little boys ages 5 and 3, I took them with me everywhere I could, sometimes even to classes I taught. We visited public and university libraries, some with deep, dark basements, and others seven-stories tall, for lengthy periods of time. My sons took to them like ducks to water and cheerfully called them the “book caves”.  

That why I was struck by an NPR radio program of a boy who lived in a library with his parents and is now a writer. (I borrow heavily from his story below.) Is there a correlation? You betcha!

Decades back, custodians in the New York Public Library system could live in the buildings with their families. Raymond Clark’s dad was a custodian, and their family lived on the top floor of the Washington Heights branch in upper Manhattan starting in 1949, when Ronald was fifteen. Later, in the 1970s, he raised his daughter, Jamilah, in the same apartment until she was five. He later told that grown daughter that being a library custodian was like being, "the keeper of the temple of knowledge."

At first, Ronald was ashamed of his unusual home. But once the library closed for the day, he loved being the only kid in the building… “If I had any question about anything, I would get up in the middle of the night, go down, get out a book, (and) read until 3 o'clock in the morning . . . I began to realize how great I had it because the library gave me the thirst of learning—and this just never left me."

Living in the library shaped the man he became. “He was the first in his family to graduate from high school”, and (to his dad’s delight) eventually “got a position as a college professor. Read the full interview at https://www.npr.org/2017/10/13/557328529/how-living-in-a-library-gave-one-man-the-thirst-of-learning

Do you love books? Do they fuel you with wisdom and inspiration to take on limitless horizons? While you may not actually want to live in one, share your favorite ways to surround yourself with books. Please also check my website delorestopliff.com for more posts and updates.


  1. Would I live in a library? Ohhh, yeahhhh. And I'd bring my dogs, all twenty-odd. (And they ARE odd.)

  2. I love reading and libraries...remember getting so mad when I was nine or ten because I couldn't check out adult books in our library. Mine had to come from the children's section. Could you imagine that now??

  3. I'd almost like to imagine that now EXCEPT our librarian gave me (almost) free rein and fostered such love for books, it has been a major gift forever. That dear woman has no idea of how much important influence she was to me and I'm sure to many.