Yes Virginia, There is a Central Library

Glen Creason, Librarian III, History & Genealogy Department,
1935 postcard of the Los Angeles Central Library
1935 postcard of the Los Angeles Central Library

Dear History and Genealogy Department:
I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Central Library anymore.
Papa says, ‘If you see it in on the website it’s so.’
Please tell me the truth; is there a Central Library?

Virginia O'Hanlon.
115 West Ninety-Fifth Street.

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a scary pandemic. They do not believe except they see all these masks and stuff. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds while on Zoom. All minds, Virginia, whether they be adult readers or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours people are mere insects, ants, in their intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge available for free with a library card.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Central Library. It exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no libraries and we would only know what is on Tik Tok. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance, no Winter Reading to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in football and cats on the internet. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Central Library! You might as well not believe in elections! You might get your parent to hire techs to scrub in all the hard drives on Christmas Eve to catch Russian trolls, but even if they did not see spam coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees the 5th street door open to patrons, but that is no sign that there is no Central. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see right now like putting a hold on a serial. Did you ever see librarians dancing on the lawn? OK, there was that one time. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world of libraries.

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, and library to go, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Central Library? Thank God It lives and will live forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, that dear old Central will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.