by Micah D. Saxton
“What do you do?” We are all asked that question from time to time. The next time I’m asked that question I am going to respond by saying, “I library.” Now, I happen to know that “library” is a noun and not a verb. As a noun, “library” usually means a collection, great or small, of books. So to respond to that cocktail party question with “I library” may not make sense. However, since this is my blog post I’ve decided to make “library” into a verb. Yet, by making it into a verb I do not merely mean “I collect books”; rather, I mean so much more.
My new verb, “to library,” means something like “to create a context for careful and creative engagement with the self, the other, the world, and the relations that obtain among them.” So yes, “to library” means to collect books, but it also means to create space for conversation with those who are absent, be it with a theologian long deceased mediated by a dusty old book or with a critical theorist on another continent mediated by an online journal article or Youtube video. Or perhaps a conversation with a friend, or not a friend, about pastoral care while looking at those beautiful westward mountains.
But let us not forget mens sana in corpore sano. We are not just minds thinking ideas, we are bodies that move and express themselves. Perhaps the activities of the mind and the activities of the body need not occur in separate spaces. “To library” means to cultivate opportunities for movement and expression: peddle on an exercise bike while writing a term paper or find a corner to stand and stretch. Admittedly this all sounds a bit grandiose or sappy, but let us re-imagine libraries, let us make library a verb, and let us ask, “what can it mean to library?”