The next book up on my pile of acquisitions from recent book sales is a volume which is the second in a trilogy. Ordinarily, I'm not too picky about sequence but for some unknown reason this time I was compelled to locate and read the first volume first. You know. So I can read about the lives and adventures of fictional folk in the order in which they fictionally occurred. Turns out the first volume was ready and waiting for me to pick up at the public library.
In Tulare (about 25 miles away).
I have patronized the Tulare Public Library before. It is a warm and welcoming, if ancient and poorly-lit, place.
Yes. I could have requested an interlibrary loan and picked up the book here in a few days. But my need to read is immediate. It knows no delayed gratification. Never has. Bibliophilia is incurable and irrepressible. Look it up.
So I obtained a 44-oz. Diet Pepsi (extra ice) and I hit the road.
And a half hour later when I pulled up to the Tulare Public Library
IT WAS NOT THERE!
Oh, the building still existed. But it was a hollow shell. Dark. Closed tight. No books. No people. No signs. Nothing to indicate a forwarding address. I was flummoxed.
And a tiny part of me died when it occurred to me this was a sign of the apocalypse. Perhaps the world was ending Saturday. And it started by taking all the Temples of Knowledge up to heaven first. I knew I had a while yet to go if the apocalypse started by removing goodness from the earth before scorching what was left.
So I thought of a thrift store where I could replenish my supply of old postcards to send to the folks up north and I just shifted my errand and headed over to K Street.
My vintage postcard needs were satisfied quickly. I assessed the disappearing public library situation one more time and determined Tulare must have built a new library and forgot to tell me. I reasoned that libraries are big public spaces and hard to hide, so I drove over to the place where I last knew the courthouse to be and hoped I would see a shiny new library nearby.
So I sadly began contemplating the end of times and wending my way though empty buildings in downtown Tulare toward the commercial/retail strip when my peripheral vision caught a glimpse of a taller newish building a block away from the new transit center.
I found it! The NEW Tulare Public Library.
The silo-tower is a beautiful rotunda entrance. And the whole complex is light and spacious and thoughtfully designed. An improvement over the original Tulare Public Library that is so great as to defy description.
I wanted to weep when I entered. Perhaps from relief to find the world was not ending just then. Perhaps from relief to see brand new restrooms on the left. When I mentioned my emotionality to the librarian smiling at the front desk she said, "We've been here since July of last year. Maybe you'll come again soon."
I'm pretty sure I will.
My books are due in three weeks.