A few weeks back I wrote about how you should set yourself a ‘secret mission’ when traveling in a foreign city. The idea is that, by pursuing something interests you, you’ll escape the usual tourist traps and see more of a city’s local side. For me, that’s often food shops and market stalls. Others seek out supermarkets, pharmacies, music stores, and bakeshops.
Now I have another suggestion: Why not engage in library tourism? This fun idea comes via an article in The Daily Beast, titled, “We Took Our Young Children on a Library World Tour — And It Was Marvellous.” Stuart Kells recounts his family’s quest to visit several of the most prominent libraries in the world, including,
“In Switzerland: Zurich’s Bibliothek and the wonderful 18th-century Abbey Library of St. Gall. In London: the British Library and Lambeth Palace. At Oxford, the Bodleian. In the U.S., the Morgan, the Folger, the Houghton, the Smithsonian, plus the great public libraries of New York and Boston, and the ‘head office’ of them all: the Library of Congress.”
With their two young daughters in tow, Kells and his wife traveled from Melbourne, Australia, to the U.S. and Europe to acquaint themselves with these stunning architectural masterpieces and focal points of culture.
While plane-hopping around the globe on a mission to view libraries might strike you as excessively privileged (Kells acknowledges that it was very much a ‘first world’ library tour), the core idea can be adapted to wherever you are. Make a point of visiting the library in whatever new city you’re in, and get a feel for that library’s role in the city’s life.
There is a practical side to it, too. Libraries are free, quiet, relaxing, air-conditioned in summer and heated in winter. They offer a pleasant respite from the streets and sometimes a great view. Many North American libraries have good play centers for young children, when they need a break from touristing, and they’re full of locals who can dispense valuable recommendations.
Link to the rest at TreeHugger
PG suggests that worrying about the privilege involved in visiting a library while taking a trip seems weird to him.
He would be surprised if a great many public libraries around the world do not contain some people who don’t have much money AKA the underprivileged, so visiting the same places they do would seem to include a suitable amount of virtue signaling.
PG suspects the Privilege Police would be more fixated on spending a lot of money traveling while there are poor people anywhere who can’t afford to take an international vacation but he understands none of the nuances of privilege.
TPV isn’t going to become a political blog, but something intangible that can’t be observed or measured yet which can be a terrible wrong seems ideally suited for the totalitarian wing of the Revolutionary Social Justice Brigade. Privilege crimes are so much more useful than thought crimes because, if PG understands the concept, you can never purge yourself of most of the privileges you received before you understood privilege was a thing. Re-education camps can’t remove your white skin or your college degree.
PG says if you’re really worried about judgment, go enjoy yourself by visiting all the libraries in France, but tell your friends that you spent your vacation working among displaced African Arabian slaves and ate nothing but mud and stones for three weeks. Smear a tarry black substance on your teeth as proof of your anti-privilege bonafides and tell your friends you’re being tested for leprosy. You have no photos documenting your abasement because white police hired by Donald Trump confiscated your iPhone at the border.