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Hymn to the Libraries
September 15, 2011 - 10:00pm

There will never be enough words to write about libraries and my very personal encounters with their books. Beyond the family influence, the happy accidental encounters, and various events from my life; libraries are and will always be the main constant in my professional and human achievements (because I don’t see how one could develop in the absence of the other).

In my first years of literate life - in Ceausescu’s communist Romania - I had my huge home library: a large number of books in four or five languages, old and new, some hidden from visitors’ eyes because they were considered forbidden and whose possession was considered a risk to freedom (or at least so we’ve been told). For a long time, it was difficult to understand the fact that there could be houses without at least one room stuffed with various kinds of books. To compensate my collection, I registered at the local school library, which was not extremely rich, but held books that I didn’t have at home.

I was happy enough to grow up as a teenager in a country discovering – and sometimes reinventing – the democratic exercise. Access to the foreign public libraries was no longer restricted and I followed my mother’s advice to register first and foremost at the French Institute and the British Council. The unexpected box filled with reading pleasures – mostly literature, arts and philosophy - was opened for me then through the generous shelves of foreign books. I wanted to read them all and in my weekly ritual I introduced at least one day of library hopping when I hurried to exchange them. A local or school library supplied the necessary books in my mother tongue.

During my university years, I found out that the reading rooms could be a pleasant refuge for almost everything. Later, as my professional life was developing and my personal time was diminishing, I continued to carry with me the access cards for a minimum of two libraries and included in my – clearly – crazy schedule a marathon from one library to another at least every two weeks.

The library – as an institution in itself - was and will always be an imperishable part of my life, wherever I live and whatever I do. Finding the right place with the right books is the main element I take into consideration when moving from one country to another, from one town to another. In this way, I keep not only the visual memories of the places, but also the intellectual memories of the books continuing to change my life.

Berlin, Germany

Ana Dinescu is a regular contributor to University of Venus and a journalist for ten years for Romanian daily newspapers and is currently a communications consultant, living in Berlin.

 

 

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