When I was growing up, the Chicago Public Library on Narragansett, the West Belmont Branch, was my library. It wasn’t a large branch; I quickly graduated to adult books in my early teens, and then devoured the reference section for anything I had questions about, from ghosts to WWII, mythology to cooking.
As a curious kid, I had a lot of questions, and the librarians were kind and patient, pointing me to the right sections, giving me the space to explore or helping me when I was short on time. They recognized a love of words and a desire for knowledge in a bespectacled, geeky little girl, and they didn’t dismiss it, they helped to nurture it. That is something that people, not the internet or search engines, can do. They can meet our gaze and point us in the right direction.
I’m so grateful. Next to teachers, librarians were my favorite grown-ups because they held the keys to the worlds I wanted to explore, AND they took me and my questions seriously.
That is one of the many reasons I love the Alexandria Still Burns kickstarter project by Kyle Cassidy. Kyle is a brilliant photographer, and he has a way of finding and telling stories about transformational people and moments, stories that may go unnoticed or discounted. Kyle notices.
He did this with engaging photographs and words in his documentary photo books “Armed America: Portraits of Gun Owners in their Homes” and “War Paint: Tattoo Culture and the Armed Forces,” as well as with his projects about the women of roller derby, portraits of science fiction and fantasy writers in their writing spaces, and so many others.
Librarians are gatekeepers, and they introduce people to worlds. Kyle wants to introduce the world to them and share their stories and experiences. I’m a proud backer. If you’d like to help Kyle to share the stories of librarians and why libraries are still important in this world, you can become a kickstarter backer with $1. There are only a few days left! Every backer will get a link to a digital download of the short documentary about why libraries are important, narrated by award-winning novelist Neil Gaiman. Check it out: