Alex R. Hernandez Jr. - March 2019 1-888-HDZ-LAW-8


APRIL 2019


Studies and Dragons

Why I Love the Library

It may not be the most widely recognized holiday, but I couldn’t let this month pass without talking about National Library Week. Held the second week of April, this nationwide observance dates back to 1958 but doesn’t get a lot of press. Still, as someone who spent much of his young life among the bookshelves of many a library, I feel these public learning spaces deserve some recognition. Back when I was in high school, I’d actually go in early to spend time at the library. It meant getting up at 5 a.m., but being able to sit at a quiet table and study was the perfect start to my day. I got more homework done there than I ever did at home. This is a benefit of libraries that sometimes gets overlooked when people question whether or not we need them in the digital age. They don’t just give people access to books — they provide a space where anyone can read, write, and learn. Gaining an appreciation for this space early in life helped me immensely down the road. When I went to law school, I was more prepared for the rigorous coursework than I thought I’d be. Learning the law isn’t all mock trials and lectures on old Supreme Court decisions. In fact, the vast majority of a student’s time is spent reading. To be successful, law students need to spend hours poring over case files and researching legal history — which makes the campus library a vital resource. Much the same as when I was younger, I got up early every day and headed to the Sarita Kenedy East Law Library on the St. Mary’s University campus. Some days, I would stay there until it closed.

While libraries certainly helped me throughout my school days, their value goes far beyond the academic. In fact, I’d argue that one of the most important works on their shelves are found in the fiction section. For readers of all ages, works of fantasy and science fiction can provide inspiration, enjoyment, and expand our own horizons. Fictional novels were just as formative to me in my younger years as any textbook. Growing up, I loved anything with swords and sorcery. I particularly loved Mary Stuart’s take on Arthurian legends, known as the “Merlin Trilogy.” Blending elements of historical writing and magic, those books pulled me in as a young man. Here was the story of a boy who came from nothing and was suddenly charged with ruling a kingdom — that’s quite a lot of responsibility to suddenly inherit! To this day, I think back on those books as an example of just how precarious power can be, even to those who try to wield it wisely.

As someone whose profession largely revolves around facts, I’m still a firm believer in the place fiction has in our lives. Reading for pure escapism is valuable — sometimes you need to forget the stress of everyday life and go fight a dragon or pilot a spaceship. And throughout these fantastic journeys, you usually end up learning more about yourself and the real world. As Mary Stuart herself once wrote, “The place for truth is not in the facts of a novel; it is in the feelings.” A place of study, learning, and storytelling: It’s hard to understate how important local libraries are, especially to our youth. We may not always use them ourselves, but there’s no better time to recognize the role they play in our community. This April, why not swing by your local library? You never know what you might discover. Alex R. Hernandez Jr.

Fictional novels were just as formative to me in my younger years as any textbook.”

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