John Nalan

One of the things I like about the library is that it allows each of us to live a bit more comfortably. Navigating the world can be a challenge some days and we can all use a little guidance. Understanding other people, for example, can be stressful. We all understand our own personal experiences and the behavior our family upbringing taught us. However, we do not all share the same background, so in order to learn about others, we need to listen. Or read. Sometimes reading is easier. I think the key to it all is understanding that no one has a typical or normal background. Our background can be as strange to others as their backgrounds can be us.

People from different backgrounds have told stories from their unique perspective for a long time. We collect those stories in the library. Our building and computer server are filled with plenty of opportunities for everyone to learn about everyone else all while enjoying a well told story.

Toni Morrison told some great stories. After her death, I was going to read “Beloved,” the book she earned the Pulitzer Prize for in 1987. But since it was checked out, I finally settled on her novel “Jazz.” It was the very first line of the book that caught my attention.

“Sth, I know that woman.”

Five words into the novel and Morrison has already used a blistering disdain to set the mood and hint at the conflict. I was hooked. After only six pages, I desperately wanted to know who slept with who and who ended up getting shot. I also learned some things about Toni Morrison’s worldview along the way.

I suppose there are parts of my worldview available here at the library as well. Perhaps a person could learn something about me from reading Jon Hassler or Kurt Vonnegut. What I do know is that no writer can tell the story of a whole group of people. They can only tell their story as a member of the group and we can hope some of the rest of the group’s experience shines through.

Jim Northrup told great stories. We have most of them here at the library. I like them because they are funny. However, I also like that I understand the context. When Northrup describes in his book “Walking the Rez Road” that the snowstorm hit before the car got to the sweet rolls in Hinckley, I know exactly what he is talking about. But when the next story in the book is a poem and a prayer, it opens up his worldview for me.

Our library is full of stories. They are all designed to help us understand the people around us a little better. Stop in and explore a different worldview today.

Coming Up @ your Library

Air Sickness Bags. A local resident has a collection of air sickness bags from a career of flying. Proudly, they are now on display in our lobby. Stop in to see them. For me, the bag from Air Zimbabwe was a reminder of a story from my past that I would rather forget.

October 14, Book Time 9:30 or 10:30, Join us in the Story Circle for books, songs, finger plays, flannel board stories, and all other sorts of fun. Then move to the Community Room for a snack, a craft, and a time to play and visit.

October 14, Comic Character Creation Workshop 4:00, Create a comic character and start your own story. Grandparents to 5th graders and everyone in between will enjoy this drawing experience. Call us at 326-7640 to pre-register.

October 15, Lego Club 3:30, Are you a kid who likes to build? Lego Club is open to everybody who wants to spend time building something spectacular. Lego creations are displayed in the Children’s Library between programs. It is simple, we supply the Legos, you supply the imagination.

October 19, Saturday Story Time 10:15 or 11:15, Join us in the Story Circle for books and songs. Then move to the Community Room for a snack, a craft, and time to play and visit. Families may earn one Baby Steps coupon for attending Story Time.

Save the Date! On November 9 our Friends of the Library volunteer group is planning a Holiday Book Boutique here at the Grand Rapids Library. You will find nearly new books with an emphasis on holiday and children’s items, baked goods, and a prize drawing. Mark your calendar to attend and bring in your holiday themed book donations to the library before November 9.

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