LibraryThis past Saturday morning, I was the master of ceremonies at the annual meeting of the Friends of the Orange County Public Library. I had a lot of fun introducing various dignitaries including the Mayor, author Jill McCorkle and my fellow poet Celisa Steele.

I was also given the opportunity to share a poem of my own and, since I’ve spend much of life in libraries, it was an opportunity I proudly seized.


I wanted to be an astronomer,
back when I was a boy.

I loved spending
clear summer nights in Ohio
with the telescope
my grandfather gave me,
looking up.

I remember each book on astronomy
found in the children’s room
of my farm town public library.

How I miss that card catalog,
stout wooden cabinets
pregnant with information
as vast as the Milky Way.

I even dared some books
from the adult stacks
and though the 520s
were on a shelf out of reach,
they kept me looking up.

My part-time job through high school
was as a page at that same public library.

The obvious joke
was that after graduation
I hoped to be promoted
to chapter.

Instead I went off to college
and worked at the university library,
helping with the unique tasks
needed to computerize
their card catalog,
much to my regret.

I am old enough to remember
when the library
was the Internet
and I would spend afternoons
surfing the shelves
following bibliographic links
on curious whims,
always looking things up.

And despite the fact
that I have more information
accessible through this phone,

I would rather follow serendipity
through the musty stacks,
caressing imitation leather
reading book jacket blurbs.

I am convinced
that this age of proud ignorance
will end
and our public libraries
will once again be seen
not as liabilities
but investments.

By their very definition
public libraries include
everyone. They inspire
everyone and they incite
we, the people,
to keep looking up.


About Bartholomew Barker

Bartholomew Barker is one of the organizers of Living Poetry, a collection of poets and poetry lovers in the Triangle region of North Carolina. Born and raised in Ohio, studied in Chicago, he worked in Connecticut for nearly twenty years before moving to Hillsborough where he makes money as a computer programmer to fund his poetry habit.
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3 Responses to Libraries

  1. Little Monster Girl says:

    That’s great! I bet it was a fun time!


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