The Tsukuba Public Library

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It I am at the library right now. Just a short while ago I was sitting here reading and doing some weekend brainstorming, when I heard an announcement over the library speakers that there was going to be story time at three-o’clock. I looked down at my watch…”2:50.” I started packing my things away because I figured “What the hey.” I walked over to the 話し室 (hanashi shitsu or story room) and decided to take a seat outside so all of the kids and their parents could get closer to the storyteller. Though it really was just some simple, short stories…I really enjoyed what I saw.

Several kids were really in a hurry to get the chance to hear their story for the day. I though it was really cute. There were two older, Japanese women, with wonderful voices, reading to the kids. They had the kids’ complete attention. The little ones were just completely absorbed in what the storyteller had to say.

Before the stories started they did a color guessing game where one woman would hold this colored sponge tightly in her hands and when the kids would guess, she would quickly open her hands, producing a poof of color. The kids would ooh and aww, just as they should if you’re keeping them engaged. Though stories were very simple ones, they were great listening practice for me. One was a story about different types of beans, seeds, and nuts like peanuts and soybeans, etc. Another story talked about different kinds of fruits, while another was a story of animals enjoying cake.

After the story was done I went to peruse the kid’s book section some more, only this time there were many more children browsing, too. I couldn’t get my head around why they were at the library at 3:30pm on a Saturday. I’m not talking about high school kids either. Many of these were elementary-school, go-outside-and-play, -aged kids. In addition, I noticed that vast majority of the kids were smiling and reading with their friends. There were moms and sons, fathers and daughters…families at the library together. It’s so fascinating to me because it wasn’t really all that common in my hometown. When I was in elementary school and high school, I would go to the library when I had to work on a project, but it was rare that I just went for fun (until I became an adult anyway). Seeing so many people here studying, reading and trying to build their minds, makes me want to do the same.

It’s just something about libraries that I really find comforting. I remember I would go to the HUGE, well-furnished library at Emory University in Decatur, Georgia and sometimes stay all night. If you made it in by a certain time, you could stay in there as long as you wanted. I remember going into newspaper room and being in heaven. There were dozens and dozens of current international newspapers there. Strangely enough I used to look at the Japanese newspapers to see if I could understand any of the kanji, but I couldn’t make heads or tails of it (foreshadowing??). There were also financial newspapers that I was really diggin’ at the time (Investor’s Business Daily and The Wall Street Journal). Being here in the library, takes my mind back to those times, when I was studying so hard to become a dentist, yet, not quite cutting it; I thought it was what I was supposed to be doing with my life. My oh my how things have changed.

See you tomorrow,

Donald Ash

P.S.-The Japanese word for library is 図書館 (としょかん or toshokan).

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  • Anthony

    The library is a place of peace and discovery. The entire world crammed into one building is quite amazing. I go to the library on a weekly basis just for the heck of it. It’s my pace of zen lol

    • Donald Ash

      You’re new nickname is going to be “The Accidental Library Buddhist” nah, I like “Library Samurai better.”

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