I involuntarily yawned. This eased into a few minutes’ pause from reading. My eyes scanned the geometric, neo-modern architecture of the library. I was seated in a comfy lounge chair near the fireplace in the northwest part of the building. I wondered if brick and mortar public libraries such as this one would remain viable in the future.
Only a few years ago, the expansion, reconceptualizing, and updating of the Norfolk Nebraska Public Library had been completed. The city planners evidently believed an expanded, updated library would be a good idea. The large majority of voters agreed with the idea by easily passing the required bond issue to raise the millions of dollars needed to complete the project. Personally, I was excited about it, because the library has long been one of my most important resources.
Evidently, many Northeast Nebraskans feel the same. The library is usually quite busy with regular patrons and other visitors perusing the books and using the conference and project rooms. Furthermore, our small city is home to a small state operated community college. The campus includes the “Lifelong Learning Center” that is popular among older adults. So, in my estimation, Norfolk has a sizeable forward-thinking community within the town. It’s an oasis in the boondocks of our flyover state.
It’s pretty much a given that self-motivated, ongoing pursuit of knowledge helps individuals and society progress and improve. We become more employable, productive citizens when we improve our knowledge and skillset. Even those of us who mainly wish to broaden our knowledge base to aid personal improvement never outgrow the desire to learn.
We don’t necessarily need a state of the art library building or a nearby college campus to continue our educations. Mindful, purposeful use of the Web connects us to libraries and universities from around the world. Web portals such as Vimeo and YouTube provide a wealth of DIY and educational videos. It’s possible to learn about nearly every imaginable topic.
In the meantime, last week, one of the librarians who regularly chats with me, mentioned a new word: autodidacticism. This is the act of self-education without the formal guidance of professors, teachers, or other masters. The librarian believes that I am an autodidact because she has noticed that I have checked out books and other resources regarding particular subjects over the past few decades. Throughout the years, my focus has been on various subjects and study materials. I thanked the librarian for her thoughtfulness and for the new word.
“The world is a university and everyone in it is a teacher. Make sure when you wake up in the morning, you go to school.”–author, bishop, and filmmaker, T. D. Jakes
I believe everyone has a particular “quest quotient” because most of us are curious and want to learn more about something. That something might be a particular educational subject or some aspect of a hobby or other pastime activity we enjoy. Most of us are curious about at least a few things that tease our intellects. It’s deeply satisfying to expand our thinking. Also, lifelong learning is quite enjoyable.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes actor, author, and public speaker, Fran Lebowitz. “Think before you speak. Read before you think.”