They say you can’t miss what you never had but I pine for the Royal Library of Alexandria, The Bibliotheca Alexandrina. Founded in the 3rd century BC, it once was the largest library in the world. Sadly, this wonder of the ancient world is gone and its destruction is one of history’s greatest unsolved mysteries.
Located in the Egyptian city of Alexandria, scholars think this sprawling library housed around 400,000 to 700,000 scrolls. I get dreamy imagining myself in a flowing robe, holding a sheet of papyrus from Aristotle’s hand-written collection. And to think, Mark Antony is rumored to have gifted Cleopatra thousands of books for the Library of Alexandria. (Hint, hint, Mr. UnHollywood.)
According to the recent Pew Report’s findings, libraries still play a key role to most Americans. 91% of those surveyed said: “public libraries are important to their communities.”
I grew up roaming the stacks of the Beverly Hills Public Library and still remember the day when I got my own library card and declared myself an adult after checking out Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume.
I doubt Bessie Yancey, the first librarian of The Beverly Hills Public Library, would have approved. Ms. Yancey steered children toward classics like Tom Sawyer and Alice in Wonderland. Back then in 1914, the library was still a branch of the Los Angeles Public Library. By 1929, however, the Beverly Hills City Council decided to create an independent Beverly Hills Public Library.
Today, over 1000 children participate in its Summer Reading Club. As youngsters, my boys participated in the club and I loved those quiet mornings as we all read our books in the Childrens Section. The lovely librarians gave the boys terrific book suggestions. Adults have a lot to gain from the library, too. In these uncertain economic times, the library offers entertainment, refuge and resources to recent graduates on the job hunt, as well as, to others looking to expand their skills.
I graduated from the USC Cinema-TV School. Where did my ideas for scripts come from? The library. Where did I find research materials for class? The library. To remain relevant, Libraries need added space, technology upgrades, collections expansion and digitization.
We all need to give back when we can. Fellow Trojans, join me and become a Friend of the USC Libraries.
Fellow BH citizens: pay it forward and become a Friend to the BH Libraries.
In 2003, Egypt inaugurated the new Library of Alexandria. I’m still a few thousand Frequent Flyer miles short of a visit so I’m opting for a walk to my public library. They don’t have the scroll collection, perhaps, but guess which one has a Kelly’s Coffee where I can sip Café Latte while I read?
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Alexandria library images courtesy of http://www.crystalinks.com/libraryofalexandria.html