I Found My American Dream at the Public Library

By Daniela Petrova for lithub.com

In his op-ed for Forbes last year, Panos Mourdoukoutas, a professor of economics at LIU Post in New York, suggested that Amazon stores should replace libraries to save taxpayers money. Following the backlash this preposterous suggestion created, Forbes took the article down. But the outpouring of love for libraries in response to the piece was priceless, reconfirming the intrinsic role of libraries in the fabric of American communities.

Libraries were instrumental to my experience as an immigrant and I rejoiced watching social media explode with messages in defense of the local library as a cornerstone of our democracy.

One of the hardest aspects in the life of an immigrant is not fully belonging anywhere. One foot stays firmly rooted in your country of origin no matter how hard you plant the other one in the host country. Even though I’ve lived in the United States for 24 years, the first thing people ask upon meeting me, courtesy of my accent, is “Where are you from?” And when I go back to Bulgaria, everyone calls me The American. But there is one place where I always feel at home—the library. Any library. Anywhere in the world. The familiar smell of books, the shelves packed with old and new tomes, the friendly staff eager to help.

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