Dear Mr. President,
I quit my job today. I'll be taking a position with another company, a company I respect. Still, I am heartbroken to be leaving behind my life as a bookseller, to say goodbye to so many of my friends and coworkers, and even my bosses, for whom I have a tremendous amount of respect. In many ways, I was too comfortable at my job, too content with what I had to push myself to achieve more.
In anticipation of the separation from my store, I signed up for a library card. The Seattle Library is a truly awe-inspiring building, rivaling the skyscrapers in grandeur, but open to all. Inside, I am reminded of the great things that government stands for, the collective good served by institutions like this one. I sit at a computer, surrounded by Seattlites of all ages, races and backgrounds. Some are looking for work. Some are learning. Some are just killing time. But we are united, in a small way, by this shared experience, this service we receive from our community.
I think libraries are a great example of how government programs can coexist with private industry. My bookstore will not go out of business or suffer because of competition from libraries. Many will continue to choose to pay for the ownership of clean, crisp new books, the day they are published. But for those who cannot afford to buy every book they would like to read, the government, recognizing that society is stronger when every one can access the stores of human knowledge, has provided an alternative.
I hope that I made the right choice today, Mr. President. I know you can offer me no assurance to that end. Facing the unknown consequences of our choices is the price we pay for the freedom to make them. I will enjoy my new job, but as I sit here, overcome with gratitude at my own good fortune and that such a place as this library exists, I know that I need to start giving back to the greater good. I'm making a commitment to you, in this letter, on day 63 of this year, to find a way to better serve my community, as well.