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The Library

Posted by StarMountainKid , 18 November 2012 · 346 views

The Library is situated in a grand park in the center of the city. It is a most conspicuous structure, a giant cathedral, really. It is constructed of stone, and as it towers over all others and can be seen from great distances.

On my first visit to the Library I was naturally awed by its immense interior. The large multi-colored windows on every side allowing streamers of radiant light illuminating the vast shelves of books were very impressive. But, what really struck me was its labyrinthine design. Evidently this was the most efficient plan the architects could contrive to fulfill their intentions.

Numerous circular anti-rooms are set off on both sides of the main corridor. Entering any one of these, one finds spiraling staircases and walkways set against the shelf-filled walls. Since there is no numbering system for all these separate chambers, and there are so many of them, it is difficult to know which anti-room you are visiting.

Another problem is, as there are many interrelated passageways between and among these smaller rooms, one can easily become lost, and attempting to return to one’s original location is often a fruitless pursuit.

Not only is the design of the Library’s interior complex and intricate, the organization of the books is obscure and perplexing.  I must admit, even after all these years, I still have no clear conception of their organization.  Only to the Librarians is it known the method of the arrangement of the books, and no Librarian will ever disclose even the tiniest hint as to their configuration.  To us who search for the volume we desire, the sequence of their placement always remains a mystery.

For instance, when one asks a Librarian for the location of some specific volume, their instructions as to its whereabouts will be so vague and ambiguous that you may as well start your search at random.

No one who had taken a book off a shelf to read it could ever remember its original location.  Also, if you did find the book you had been looking for, you had to read as much of it as you could before the Library closes for the night. No book can be removed from the Library for any reason.

At night, after the Library closes its doors is when the Librarians return the selected books to their proper placements on the shelves. How they know exactly where a specific book is placed between two other books no one knows.  But every morning all the books taken from the shelves disappear from the reading tables, and presumably have been put back in their proper positions.

Another peculiar aspect of the Library is, if you are looking for a book by some specific author, you may come across books by other authors known to you, but almost never find a book by the author you were looking for. The vast majority of volumes one observes are by authors you had never heard of, of course.  

Similarly, another strange and frustrating characteristic is, when looking for a specific book on astronomy, for example, one could spend a whole day without seeing one book on the subject, but when searching for a book on, say, biology, one would come across many books on astronomy and not discover one book on biology.

Nevertheless, all these peculiarities never seem to discourage anyone from their relentless searching. The walls are always crawling with searchers, especially on weekends and holidays.

Because of the repetitive way in which the Library is constructed, if one does not discover the book one is searching for, when one returns the next day to continue looking, one is never sure of continuing the search in the same location as the day before. It is as if every day one must begin at the beginning, ever repeating anew one’s explorations.

As an aside, on the top most ramparts of the Library, of which I have visited often, usually unaware of how exactly I had reached that specific location, one can dimly see above one’s head the great mural painted on the high ceiling. This mural, although exceedingly obscure due to their height and dimness, are by far the most famous work of art in the land.

I have spent much of my leisure time peering at it from various lofty vantage points, trying in vain to discover its subject. Of course, the theme of a mural so large as to cover the entire ceiling of the vast building cannot be determined from any single location or perspective, but determining the subject of at least a small portion of the mural is my secondary purpose, so to speak, of my daily visits to the Library.

These precarious parapets are also a pleasant place to rest, away from the milling throng, and from my own incessant searching, as few venture to such dizzy heights.

I must tell you now of the volume I seek. It is entitled LOLA. I know little about its physicality except that it is supposedly a thin volume of a very few pages, but its import is incomparable. Its stature had grown to mythic proportions long before I was born, and tales of individuals having spent their entire lives searching for this rare volume have been passed down through the generations.  

At times it seems to me everyone is frantically looking for the same volume I am searching for, since LOLA could as well be anywhere as anywhere else. Although LOLA is the rarest of books in the Library, I have always considered that it would be the easiest book to find just for this reason.  

For instance, it could be laying on some obscure table in a dim corner or on top of a stack of books on one of the many Librarians’ desks for all to see. All I had to do was to aimlessly wander about, casually glancing here and there, and I would find it staring up at me, its title shining in large silver letters or lit by its own special light.

I must say now that LOLA is a book banned by the Authorities. Of course, many books are banned and forbidden to be read. Even so, all of these banned volumes exist within the Library, so I knew LOLA exists here, too. The Authorities allow this on the premise that, given the enormous number of volumes in the Library, and the extreme difficulty in finding any specific edition, it would be next to impossible to actually find any book on the forbidden list.

LOLA is of course certainly the most famous book of all in the Library. I actually used to think no one else was looking for it because of its extreme rarity and its position as first on the list of forbidden volumes, which is the vary nature of its fame. No one would consider that it could be found in the numberless volumes because of its singular uniqueness. This is why I think LOLA should be much easier to find than the numerous books that are the most sought after.

This is my advantage, and the reason I have some confidence of success. If something is obscure enough, no one will think he or she could possibly find it and would soon give up their search, so the one who continues to look is the most likely to succeed.

Another benefit is, as usual, most searchers are looking for the most popular books, and of course, they are the most difficult to find, because there is much competition to discover them.  Also, there is only one copy of each book in the Library, so if someone did find one of the popular ones, took it to a table and began to read, all the other searchers search in vain for that particular title.

Now, I should tell you the reason I so wish to discover LOLA. It is because I believe LOLA contains the answer to my question. And I only have one question I need answered. This is why this book is the most rare and singular item in the entire Library for me. If this gigantic structure contained only one book, this book would be LOLA.

I will most likely spend the rest of my life in this Library, searching. My trust that I shall find LOLA one day remains invincible. Some may consider a quest such as this foolish, and unwise to spend one’s entire life seeking after one resolution, one reply. But my resolve remains tenacious and relentless.

Even if I should perish during my pursuit, and never discover the volume I seek, a life such as mine cannot be imprudent, and I should die a happy man in the knowledge that I stood unwavering and steadfast, and my resolve never wavered.




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