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An Adventure With Books, but Not Reading

April 11, 2016

The girls are continuing to share their travel adventures. Emily’s post today is about a different view of the St. Louis Library. Please read her blog, COMMENT, and subscribe to their blog. Beyond The Gravel Road, is the creation of Anna, Emily and our bonus daughter for a time, Moriah. Help encourage some young ladies as they share their journeys.

(If you read this article on their site, you will also get to enjoy the amazing photographs that Anna and Emily took.)

Once upon a time there was a girl who loved books. Thick, thin, long, short, fiction or true she loved them all. She loved the way they smelled, felt, looked, and sounded when you read them aloud. She loved the way books helped you escape, and the way that they helped you succeed. She loved the way they sat on shelves and the way they made you want to read. The adventures she experienced while reading books were tremendous and exciting; sometimes they were sad, but they were often times inviting. From slaying a dragon, and hiding from pirates, and riding in a submarine, she never was too tired because to adventure she didn’t have to leave. But the greatest of her adventures if you ask her what it was, it didn’t take place in a novel, or somewhere on paper with ink, it took place in the world that everyone can see. It took place in a city, in a large stone building labeled library.

Her adventure in the St. Louis Public library took place on a rainy day, the best day for a book. A thick haze lay over the city and along the bank of the Mississippi. She had at first thought the day to be gray and forbidding, but found that this was the best sort of weather for such an excursion.  Down Olive Street she scurried to the entrance on the west side of the building. This entrance was modern, and impressive, but she was not easily awed. She wandered strategically through the building, making sure to see each room, following the map she had acquired at the front desk, so as to not get lost in the halls of the monstrous book haven. Each room was more exquisite than the one before it, in both size and interior. Her jaw began to drop lower with every room she entered; she was dazzled and very emotional about the whole thing.

The first truly grand room she came upon was, as the name inspires, The Grand Hall. This hall was truly grand, and tear-jerking to the max. The celling soared high, and the large arched windows bordered the east and west sides of the room.  The ceiling was delicately designed, giving almost the impression that it was a hankie, softly embroidered for a child. The walls were not lined with shelves, but rather historical displays educating the libraries patrons about photography, old writings, and the lives of the library’s founders’ family. Wooden tables sit in the center of the room so that you can read or study with a cluster, or individually.  She lingered in The Grand Hall only for a short time before the urge of curiosity moved her on.

The ceilings in the rooms following the grand hall impressed her further and further. She felt a love for architecture that she had never known, and sensed a deep admiration for the craftsman that was so talented as to intrigue others to his naturally unappealing sport. Ceilings imported from Florence hung over her head as she closed her eyes, imagining the room was singing her a song of the purest Latin. While the room’s interior was exquisite, it would not feel complete if it were lacking its shelves of specifically arrayed prized documents. What is more glorious than an endless row of books?

The most prized documents in this library were the rare books held in the archives. A visit to the archives can be obtained by a phone call and reservation.  Among the rare books were a first addition, Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn”, a Shakespeare folio, and a 15th century Latin illumination. There were many more fantastic volumes but I must not name them all for I might faint in utter delight. The most marvelous of the texts was by far the pieces of clay manuscripts. The clay manuscripts were basically just clay tablets historically used for records. They were inscribed in an ancient dialect that dates back to 374 B.C. in spite of the fact that these tablets were over 2000 years old, they were in impeccable condition. Translated to be business transactions, they were hypnotizing and intricate. Even the literary ignorant, and anti-bookworms, could not object to spending the day reading these gently precise manuscripts.

We know that the girl loved books. But if there was anything that interested her as much, or even more than a good solid literary treat, it was history. History was her deep and fiercest passion. The rare books section had combined these interests, creating delight and awe. Another historical benefit in this specific library was its extensive collection of genealogy. After the state of Utah, this is the largest collection of genealogical manuscripts in the United States. You could spend the whole day, in the company of a librarian, pouring through the history of what your family line was before you. Every county, every year, documented right at your fingertips.  You may know that your family came over from Ireland, but there are two sides to every story, as well as every family.

Whether or not you love books, the St. Louis public library is defiantly a must see. Hundreds of years of memories and words reside within these walls, and even just entering can give you a feeling of deeper appreciation for the Knowledge of the past. Just sitting among all these stories, you can almost feel the energy of hundreds of different tales coming to hundreds of different twists and turns, bringing your imagination to life, love to your heart, and characters to your mind, that will remain with you for the rest of your days. You could know nothing more of this character, except that she is a girl who loves books, and still feel that what she experienced was amazing, and you’ll begin to dream of experiencing her adventures for yourself.

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