The Grand Canyon of Libraries

Last week was Spring Break, and instead of crashing crazy parties in Cancun I traveled through northern Arizona and southern Utah. Having never been anywhere in the Southwest, I had no idea what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised by the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Zion National Park, and the red rocks of Sedona.

Now that I am at GSLIS, my travels prompt me to think about the libraries that support the places I visit. This may sound silly, but I really do love when I see a library in an unfamiliar town. Or, even if I don't see the library, it is interesting to check out its website afterward. After spending two days in Springdale, Utah (population 457; a small, touristy town right outside of Zion National Park), I was not surprised to find that its library staff consists of three people and that without a library card, internet access costs $1 for 60 minutes. After two days in Sedona, Arizona (population 10,031; an artsy, touristy, and outdoorsy city), I was not surprised to find that its library homepage features the "latest bestseller reads" and that its website has an interactive graphic interface for kids and teens.

Just as those libraries suit their communities, the Boston Public Library (BPL) suits Boston, but on a much larger scale. As Maya wrote last week, we in Boston are incredibly fortunate to have an extensive library system that is deeply engrained in the city and its history. In fact, the BPL was founded long before either Arizona or Utah achieved statehood. I don't point that out to suggest that Arizona's and Utah's libraries are Boston?s red-headed step-grandchildren; rather, to suggest the value of having one of the country?s oldest and largest libraries just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Simmons GSLIS.

Boston may not have the Grand Canyon, but the BPL's vast, historical, and compelling nature certainly liken it to the Grand Canyon of libraries.


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