Before I became a nomad, I used to spend a lot of time in the library every day. This is strange because I hated the library when I was a student. I rarely sat in the library while on campus because extracurricular activities like chatting on Yahoo Messenger kept me busy after classes.
The last time I visited my Nairobi alma mater, namely USIU, the university’s new state-of-the-art library had just been launched. Maybe I would have spent more time in the library if this beckoning architectural splendor was there when I was pursuing my degree.
While living in Kigali between 2012 and 2016, I used to work out at Nyarutarama Sports Club every morning and still be the first person to sign Kigali Public Library’s attendance sheet. As the saying goes, reading is to the mind what exercising is to the body. The importance of sports clubs and libraries is undeniable.
I knew I had become a frequent library user when security guards and cleaners became my buddies. At some point, I didn’t have to show my membership card while borrowing and returning books. Front desk custodians had memorized my registration number. When I was out of town, they noticed my absence.
Although Kindle has given me access to numerous electronic books, I still go to my library from time to time. In this house, youngsters are working hard to complete their dissertations. Digital entrepreneurs are also in the mix.
Kigali Public Library is a masterpiece designed to attract knowledge-hungry and creative minds. Its interior is a premium bibliophile sanctuary. There is a well-paved parking lot and a splendid garden in the premises of this shining beacon.
Albert Einstein was quoted saying the only thing you absolutely have to know is the location of the library. At Kigali Public Library, we close our mouths and open our minds. In this building, knowledge is dispensed free of charge.
I have found very good books on the shelves of this library. Books that became friends, counselors and teachers. I was so attached to some of them that I felt like losing a friend when I turned the last page. Sometimes I feel like having face to face conversations with authors after reading their books.
There are times when I traveled the world without leaving my chair. I found myself dreaming with my eyes open. There is magic in the library.
Lying helplessly on his deathbed, Augustine of Hippo instructed his people to preserve his library and all the books therein carefully. After his death, the Vandals burned the city and destroyed everything, but his library wasn’t scratched one bit. Ruthless Vandals set the entire city ablaze, but could not dare burn one page of a book.
As ancient Greeks used to say, burning books is an unforgivable sin. According to Joseph Brodsky, if we don’t read them, we are committing a worse sin than burning them.