So today I had a whole post planned out. Then I read that Betsy DeVos was just confirmed as Education Secretary. And again we are divided with part of the country condemning the announcement and part of the country celebrating it.

I am not going to talk about the politics or speculation surrounding this appointment. I am going to talk about one of the most astounding things we have access to – the opportunity to use a free public library.

Seriously, you do not need to rely on a school, teacher, principal, or education system to learn about the things you want to learn about.Want to learn about Lewis and Clark? There’s a book for that. Want to learn about psychopathology? There’s a book for that. Want to learn about pathophysiology? There’s a book for that. Want to learn about molecular physics? There’s a book for that. Want to know how to negotiate a raise, close a sale, or build a house? There are books for those too.

The best thing about the library is you can learn about what you want to in your own time. I am not saying it is a waste of time to learn subjects you are not fond of. On the contrary that is extremely important. And while you are learning about the subjects you love you might find that you need to learn about something you hate in order to understand the subject. In order to understand “The Poison Paradox” by John A. Timbrell I had to learn about chemistry, one of my most loathed subjects. But it was not too bad once I was learning about it because I needed and wanted to understand the book. When I was forced to learn it at a pace that was too quick I resented it.

I know people say with the internet books are irrelevant. But I learn more when I have a physical book in my hand and Netflix, YouTube, and Wikipedia are not distracting me. When I can put two books side by side and compare them I get more out of it. There’s something so comforting in opening a book and feeling all the pages of knowledge between your fingertips. That is something the glow of a laptop screen cannot replace, no matter how hard we try.

This education at a library does not depend on having a great teacher. If one author does not explain something as well as you’d like just go down the row and find another! This education does not depend on a budget. The library is free as long as you turn your books in on time. This education does not depend on what the curriculum is. You are free to choose what you would like to learn. This education does not force you into a too slow or too fast pace. You read and learn at your pleasure, as quickly or as slowly as you please.

So those of you who are worried about the new Education Secretary, go to the library and learn. For those of you celebrating, go to the library and learn. Realize that no matter who is in charge you can still choose to learn. At the library, one of my favorite places, knowledge is available if you choose to seek it.

“A personal library is a reflection of who you are and who you want to be, of what you value and what you desire, of how much you know and how much more you’d like to know.”
Michael Dirda




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