By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
I know a place that has magic. A place that is magic.
A place filled with wonder and excitement. With fierce battles on fields stained brightest scarlet. With quiet meadows where dragonflies float clumsily through the air on summer afternoons.
It’s a place where dragons sleep, and where strange aliens stare up at even stranger skies on distant planets in distant galaxies.
I know a place where the dead speak. Where they impart their wisdom — and their follies — to we, their grandchildren and great grandchildren.
I know a place where art shines beneath brightest spotlights, and where it exists in the daubs of tempera paint on the fingertips of children dabbing at colorful bits of construction paper.
I know a place where the theory of gravity and the laws of thermodynamics find themselves perfectly at home with the fantastic of fairy magic, and alchemy and the metaphysical.
I know a place that keeps the most frightening, peek-through-your-fingers horrors contained, but also unleashes the most amazing and miraculous of marvels.
I know a place where the rich are humbled, and the poor are enriched by the vastness of knowledge they both can obtain — equally — in this place. This magical place.
So, what is this place that contains all these things and so many more, these things that are seemingly at odds with each other and everything else? Why, a public library, of course!
What incredible treasures our public libraries are! They entertain us. And they educate us.
You can learn a new language at a public library. Or participate in an art class. You can find a quiet room to study, or catch up on the latest news. You can watch a movie, or listen to a symphony. You can get help with your taxes. You can get help with applying for citizenship.
You can admire art from local artists. You can listen to distinguished guests deliver educational lectures or seminars.
You can learn about your own culture, or a culture halfway around the world. You can lose yourself in a science-fiction novel, or immerse yourself in some of the most important days in history reading the very words of the greats who spoke them.
And to do all this, you don’t need a single dime.
You can come as you are. Rich, poor, employed, unemployed, adult, child, able-bodied or not. You can come and be welcomed — warmly.
Indeed, libraries contain magic. And they make a little magic, too.
That’s why I was so happy last weekend as I headed down a familiar street in McAllen on my way to what used to be a Walmart Supercenter. Now, there lies one of the best library treasures around — the main branch of the McAllen Public Library system.
And, as anyone who has ever been to a Walmart knows, those parking lots are huge. They’re capable of accommodating hundreds of cars. But, as I turned the corner, I found myself faced with the most enjoyable of dilemmas — difficulty finding a place to park. At first, I was annoyed that I’d have to park so far from the entrance, but the annoyance soon faded as I realized what all the cars meant: this jewel is well-loved by its community.
These people know of the magic this place holds. And with that, I smiled, eager to walk inside.
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