Nowadays, when we’re searching for answers, we often depend upon Google, which usually, other than with the misfortune of a dead battery or no wi-fi, comes with us via our phone wherever we go. With the privilege of carrying our pocket-size encyclopedias, dictionaries, translators, atlases, maps, recipe keepers, books, magazines, periodical tables, and on-and-on, who needs to do an old school search for desired info in a library?
While in Puebla, Mexico, this week, we stopped into the tourist information center, where it was recommended we visit the city’s biblioteca, Biblioteca Palafoxiana, the Americas’ oldest library, right next door.
The Biblioteca Palafoxiana’s namesake, Juan Palafox y Mendoza, was bishop of Puebla from 1640 to 1655, and served as viceroy of New Spain. In 1646 he donated 5000 books from his private collection to the seminary of the Colegio de San Juan. He made the donation with the stipulation that the books be available to any literate person, and not just academics, thus establishing the first public library of the Americas. In 1773, Bishop Francisco Fabian y Fuero commissioned bookshelves made of finely carved cedar, ayacahuite pine, and coloyote wood to house the library’s growing collection. An additional tier of shelving was added in the 1800s.
Whether it be from lack of desire, of access or of privilege, we don’t all own personal phones or computers, and those of us who do, often, sadly, feel naked and alone without them. However, when we peel it all away – when the batteries are completely dead and the wi-fi is on the fritz – we still, together, desire understanding.
Stepping into the beautiful, quiet Biblioteca Palafoxiana, I’m reminded of the privilege of being literate, the value of words and books and the sacredness of where it is celebrated and housed, in a library.
from Max Ehrmann’s,
(Latin word meaning, “desired things”)
“Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”
“It Is Still a Beautiful World“
I checked it out –
there’s still a lot to be desired in the library
and in this world.