On the morning of January 4, 1892, Karl G. Maeser and the students of the Brigham Young Academy met for one last time in the ZCMI warehouse. Their school building had burned down eight years before, and they’d been meeting in the warehouse while they slowly gathered the funding to build a schoolhouse that would meet the needs of a rapidly growing community. After a benediction, the students marched in a procession a few blocks down the street to their new home. When they reached the outside of the building, Dr. Maeser looked up at it and said, “The old man taught school in a log cabin, but they have built a palace for his boys.” (1)
One of my favorite parts of working as a librarian at the Provo City Library is giving tours of the historic wing, better known as the Brigham Young Academy building. I grew up in Provo, but despite Maeser’s pronouncement that this building was a palace, my memories of the old Brigham Young Academy are of a sad, neglected block of buildings that was a bit of an eyesore right in the center of town.
Fifteen years ago, the debris was cleared out and the building was restored thanks to the efforts of local citizens who care for our history. Re-named the Provo City Library at Academy Square, it’s been a thriving part of our community ever since. We keep a record of the reconstruction process on our website, but some of my favorite pictures can be seen below.
With the recent rebuilding of the Provo Tabernacle and its conversion into the Provo City Center Temple, I’m not the only one who has noted the similarities between two buildings with such deep roots into our city’s past. Both of these buildings were originally built around the same time with funds raised by the community, meant to be used and appreciated by everyone in the community. Both buildings have had many different uses over the years. And when both buildings finally gave way to time and weather and age, both were raised up and given new life and purpose.
And so, while celebrating the rebirth of the Provo Tabernacle and the revitalization it will give to downtown Provo, I’m taking a minute to celebrate the rebirth of the Brigham Young Academy as well. It is a palace once more. Thank you to everyone in the community for supporting the library. We look forward to many more years of service.
1. Butterworth, E. (1975). Brigham Young University: 1000 Views of 100 Years. Brigham Young University Press, p. 31
Parents of voracious readers have, no doubt, at some point found their children lost in the pages of a thick fantasy book. It can be thrilling to see our kids (perhaps even those who have been labeled "reluctant readers") so consumed with a story that nothing else seems to matter. Afternoons are oddly quiet, flashlights appear under the sheets at night, words like Quidditch, Ents, and Tumnus begin infiltrating their vocabulary, and there's the ever constant plea, "Hold on -- I'm almost done with the chapter!" Huzzah! They're reading! And yet...there's an annoying little voice in the back of our minds wondering if all of that time spent in a world that isn't "real" is healthy.
J.R.R. Tolkien once insisted in his essay "On Fairy Stories" that Fantasy is a "human right." Why might he feel so strongly?
The advantages of reading Fantasy come from the way it cultivates imagination and encourages readers to think outside the box. It allows us to escape to a Secondary World and then to explore human values within that world. In their book CHILDREN’S LITERATURE, BRIEFLY, BYU's own Michael Tunnell and James Jacobs write that “good fantasy actually tells the truth about life. It clarifies the human condition and captures the essence of our deepest emotions, dreams, hopes, and fears. If fantasy does not do these things, it fails” (121). They also quote famed psychologist Bruno Bettelheim’s support of Fantasy in his statement that “fairy stories are not only safe for children, but also necessary…children may vicariously vent the frustrations of being a child controlled by an adult world, for they subconsciously identify with the heroes of the stories, who are often the youngest, smallest, least powerful characters” (109). I would venture to guess that all of us (adults included), at times feel powerless and manipulated by situations that are out of our control. Reading Fantasy just might help us to find our own strength within us. And possibly the greatest advantage of the genre is its ability to captivate and provide adventure and pure enjoyment. These sentiments are echoed by renowned Fantasy author Lloyd Alexander who stated that “realism walks where fantasy dances” (105).
So let those kids keep reading! Talk to them about why they love these stories so much, and ask which characters they relate to or admire. Then maybe take a long overdue dance through Fantasy along with them. Need a recommendation? Check out our Children's Department Fantasy booklist!
Tunnell, Michael O. and James S. Jacobs. Children’s Literature, Briefly. Columbus: Pearson Education, 2008. Print.
You might think that the Library was a good resource for your 5th grade state report (and you are right! It is!), but we can help you well beyond 5th grade! The Library has fantastic resources that are accessible remotely, which means that you can do them all without even changing out of your pajamas (I can hardly think of a better way to prepare for college!). Here are some great ways our website can help you prepare for college:
Do you need to prepare for college entrance exams like the ACT and SAT? We have a database with free practice tests, tutorials, and e-books. All you need is a library card to log in.
Do you need to strengthen your academic skills to prepare for placement tests? Our College Center can help with that.
What if you're preparing to take the GED? You can take practice tests and build your skills with the High School Equivalency Center.
What about community service to strengthen your application appeal? Consider doing volunteer work at the library (okay, this one will require you to change out of your PJs...).
You can also be part of our monthly Teen Volunteer Board, where you can volunteer with a group and work on projects together and help the librarians with special projects!
Come in and ask a librarian how we can help you prepare for college, or check out the "Plan for College" section on our Homework Resources page. We're ready to help!