The English language is made up of only 26 characters, and the combination of just four characters creates the most powerful of all words — love. Without love, some would say that life itself is not worth living, but we only have one word to describe it in English. Meanwhile, Sanskrit, one of the oldest languages still in use today, has 96 words for just love.
I think it’s safe to say that our language is severely limited when it comes to expressing love in one word. After all, we use the same words to describe how we feel about our family and close friends, just as we use the same words to describe our favorite foods. We all know that when speaking orally, the actual meaning of something has a lot to do with the tone and manner of saying it, but when writing, the reader has no access to these complementary reinforcers. When looking at something as complex as love, it often takes more accompanying words to express it properly.
When the Greek word agape is translated into English, it takes multiple word forms and is translated as unconditional/sacrificial love. Without these accompanying words, we have no frame of reference about the varying degrees to which the word is applied. This language structure makes libraries more beneficial because there is no limit to the combinations of words that people can read. It’s left to us, the readers, to find who we’re looking for.
If you type love into the search box of the Sheridan County Public Library’s new online catalog and don’t adjust the filters, it returns more than 83,000 items throughout the state that contain the word love in the title or description. Of these, 28,000 are in our library system. From there we can narrow our search to everything from love stories to self-help books designed to change lives through love.
One thing you won’t find is a button to narrow down to a specific type of love, instead we have to use other ways to narrow down our search, such as accompaniment words, genres, audiences, and themes.
We can select physical non-fiction books in the Sheridan branch by adjusting the filters in the drop-down menus at the top and left of the search page. The search then returns 3,550 physical books in the collection. We can then scroll down and make a selection, in this case I selected search result 8 titled “Love as a Lifestyle: Seven Keys to Transforming Every Aspect of Your Life” by Gary D. Chapman. This book explores seven characteristics of a caring person: kindness, patience, forgiveness, courtesy, humility, generosity, and honesty. It dedicates a chapter to each feature, including quizzes and reflection questions to ensure understanding and practical application, What’s more appropriate in today’s world?
With Valentine’s Day approaching, there’s love in the air and everywhere in libraries.
Come see our physical collection or visit our new online catalog by sheridanwyolibrary.org and click the Catalog Search link at the top of the page.
Our annual book dating event runs from now until the end of February. Each blind date includes a chocolate and entry to our pamper yourself gift basket draw on February 28th at 4pm. Good luck.
michael mclean is an employee of the Sheridan County Public Library System.