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The writing’s on the wall at the library | Darcy Brixey | Required Reading
All these years I’ve kept my favorite childhood book: a student dictionary. As a kid, I’d sit in my room and read it like a novel. The writing was on the wall that I’d grow up to work in a field related to books and language.
Later, when I learned of the existence of a thesaurus, I discovered it was not a dinosaur, but a book designed especially for people like me who loved the way words sounded and how they looked on the page.
In a further confession of admitted geekery, I would make lists of my favorite words so I could sound them out, memorize them and drop one or two into conversations. It made arguing with my siblings more entertaining. My sister was no longer a brat. She became a miscreant or urchin and an impudent one at that.
I’m pleased with the recent art installation in the parking garage at the Bellevue Library. It’s a celebration of letters and language. This design, by local artist Buster Simpson, consists of black and white license plates that hang near the walkway between the garage and the library.
Stamped on those plates are a variety of interesting words like henpeck, gleaned, and elitism. Naturally they hang in alphabetical order. There are words more common in every day speech like oldster or hipster or underused words like plumbum and milieux.
If you like puzzles you will enjoy the collection inside the garage of random, multi-colored vanity plates with vernacular words and phrases such as RNDROPS, BIONRG, ZPD2DAH and GYDEEUP.
If word art doesn’t intrigue you, perhaps the green wall at the east entrance will, which contains 80 varieties of plants that bloom at various times throughout the year. Just as the reflective paint on the license plates will change with the headlights and ambient light, the plants will change with the season.
Once inside, the library has a great collection of dictionaries and thesauri to learn about words, including Oxford English Dictionary. This is also available as a database, which can be accessed 24 hours a day with your library card number. Within the OED database you can learn the word histories and usages, etymologies and create a profile to save your searches.
It’s not every day that you get to park in a new garage and improve your vocabulary. I’d call that time well spent. Worthwhile, productive, and beneficial. Expedient. Worthy.
Darcy Brixey is the teen services librarian at the Bellevue Library. She’d like to tell you she loves to read, but it’s an expectation of the job.