Yesterday a kindergartener asked me to help her find “a book with horses.” While we were looking she commented, “You sure have a lot of books here.”
Now to my mind, this is only partially true. It’s a school library of about 8,000 volumes, which is quite modest as libraries go. Still, to her young eyes, there are indeed “a lot of books.”
Then she asked, “Why do you have so many books?” The question caught me unaware and I was slow to respond – not because I couldn’t but because I was trying to think how best to formulate my answer in terms she would understand. While I was thinking, she asked again, more insistently. “Why do you have so many books?”
To a reader, to a user of libraries, to anyone who has been a serious student, the answer is obvious: so you can find the information you need or something interesting to read. Add to that the fact that people of all ages and backgrounds have wildly different interests and preferences in reading and it’s easy to see why the variety in numbers is good.
But this little girl is just starting out on that journey of discovery. “So everyone can find something they want to read” is what I finally said.
And then we found “a book with horses.”