I had to dash into our public library the other night to try to find a book for my son. He had to answer some questions on a story but had forgotten his book at school. Even as I ran into the library and downstairs to the kids' section, I took a deep breath of...books. The hushed voices soothed my mind, slowing down my mad dash, and I smiled at the sight of two high school kids, hauling backpacks over their shoulders, wrapping up their studying for the night. And I realized that many of my happiest memories are from the times I spent in my public library.
When I was a kid, my parents severely limited our TV viewing. With a black and white TV and a handful of channels, I didn't mind too much. Instead, my parents encouraged us to read. My dad would drive me and my sister to the library, drop of us off, and pick us up a few hours later. We'd both check out armfuls of books and take them out to a grassy area in front of the library to start reading our treasures while we waited for our ride.
Later when I was in high school, the library became THE spot to hang out on a weeknight and do homework (or at least pretend to). With no computers and no Internet, we had to do research the old-fashioned way - a card catalog and shelves of reference books. Five or six of us would sit at a table while we did homework and giggled every time the librarian shushed us. I remember one night when we had each other in stitches as we read about the oddities in Ripley's Believe It or Not. I continued to use libraries as my primary place to study and socialize when I was in college when the goal became to find the most out-of-the-way corner to hole-up and read.
When my kids were little, I used to take them to the library story times in the hopes of instilling in them the same love of libraries that I have. Alas, it doesn't seem to have worked, but then I have two boys and maybe that appreciation will come later.
We have a wonderful public library in our town, and I was happy to see people still taking advantage of its pleasures. I love the atmosphere, the smells, and the sounds of a library. I see people sitting in chairs or at tables in bookstores with their coffees and a book, but to me it's just not the same.
Our public library is going to have a book fair in June and after seeing an article about me in the local paper, one of the librarians called me with an invitation to participate. I'm very excited about the opportunity to give something back to the public library.
Do you have a favorite library or memories of libraries? Did your library inspire you to read and your love of books? Let's not forget to support our public libraries!