The Vanguard of Liberty and Knowledge: The Luther Library
When I was a little kid, I was a holy terror, which I'm sure is a complete surprise to you. I grew up with two rowdy brothers and was constantly defending what was mine; bottles of chocolate milk when I was a toddler, my Barbies (my brother were constantly beheading them and hanging them with dental floss at eye-level in my closet), my beloved Zelda games, etc. Life was a constant competition. I found my passion for reading and learning at a very early age. Reading was the only thing I could sit still for. The public library, and later my elementary school library, became my sanctuary. It was a place where gentleness, safety, and quiet reflection reigned. Libraries mellowed me out and let me explore new worlds. I grew up outside of the ELCA in a church that did not allow girls and women to participate in services and my Sunday school teachers would remind me of the behaviors and characteristics that were required of girls. Of course, I pushed back. And was a crafty and frightening child. However, at the library, I could be myself.
When I started at Luther, it was really stressful. I loved my professors and the content of my classes, but I felt out-of-place and unsure of myself. Some important relationships back home were falling apart. The library allowed me to connect to compassionate and hilarious people. I started to learn about the projects and passions of my fellow students while working at the front desk. I was treated with gentleness and encouragement by the professional staff when classes got overwhelming or I started to wonder about my call. My co-workers surrounded me with love and cracked jokes when I got homesick. Community life is obviously not as straight-forward or loud in the library compared to other parts of campus, but it's there. And it better not be loud or I'll come over there and destroy you or frighten you into silence.
But in all seriousness, there is a rhythm to the library. Certain patrons enjoy coming in at specific times every day and they've become part of my support system. Community members will come in and read the paper and give me the highlights. Groups can be found hunkered in the group study room together, enjoying a time to lament collectively while getting things done. People enjoy working in the reference room, and while they don't talk to one another, there's an immense comfort in being along together in a big room, all working toward goals and dreams. The library, full of the knowledge and wisdom of the past, reminds us that there were many before us working for the good of God's wild kingdom and now is our opportunity to join in the story and work to find and understand how the Spirit is working in the world and in our restless souls. The [library] is the place on-campus where people will fall all over themselves to make your academic life much easier. Librarians are magical people that help you find what you need and will never rest until they do. It's a place that fosters selflessness, reflection, and passion. Jesus loves you and Jesus loves libraries. #freedom.
by Elise Tweten (MDiv Junior and library student worker)
Reprinted with permission from Luther Seminary's Concord (March 2014).