I remember it well. The town where I grew up was right in the center of three towns that hugged the riverbank and each other. My town was the smallest back then, though we had the only mall. What we didn’t have was a library.
I would hop on my bike and ride more than three miles in the sweltering summer sun, the blustery winter day, and all the days in between, just to reach the nearest library. Opening the doors was like entering a fairy land. Stepping into the cool rooms after the hot sunshine was like slipping on an invisibility cloak. Noise ceased. Self-consciousness abandoned me. I didn’t have to speak if I didn’t want and no one spoke to me unless invited.
And it smelled of old books. Worn, turned pages, forever ink, cloth covers. I would inhale and feel whatever worries had followed me slip away. Straight to the fiction stacks. All the authors, all the stories, the thousands of places I could go, and all I had to do was pick one.
I never picked just one. I picked 10 and hoped I could read them all before they were due back. I picked 20 because all that knowledge was so interesting and surely I could fit them all in? Once I’d picked my fiction, I would head to nonfiction and pick something to read while I was there. Sit down at one of the long, cool tables all by myself and learn as much as I could in the time I had.
Once I’d glutted myself, I would put all my fiction into a bag, sling the bag over a handlebar, and bike back home, content.
Did you love your library like that? Do your littles?
February is here and while that means hearts and valentines, it is also a time to celebrate that other love–your love of books. More specifically, your love of that place you can go to borrow books For Free, to sit and enjoy a book in a quiet atmosphere For Free, away from consumerism and noisy salespeople and hot sunshine and cold wind…
Book stores are exciting, but they are not the same.
There’s something about the library. It holds so many secrets. When you pick a book, you are picking up the history of all the people who have read it before you and all the places that book has been. It’s a story within a story.
There are things you can do to show appreciation for your local library.
- Donate $20 to their children’s activities fund. Besides buying books, organizing and implementing story times, book clubs, and other children’s activities is one of the biggest costs a library has. I’ve had times in my library career when I only had $5 a week to spend. I am not exaggerating. Lots of donation letters were written. It is hard to have quality library activities on $5 a week. Donating a little money to the cause may lessen your children’s librarian’s load and ensure your children are getting the quality time they need at the library.
- Go through your books at home and donate those you no longer read. One of the most exciting things that happens for librarians is being given a box or two of books to add to the shelves. Especially if you live in a rural area where money is always tight, this is a super helpful way to support your library.
- Offer to Volunteer. You’d be amazed at how much help a library needs. Whether it’s shelving books or helping corral kids at story time, your volunteer work will make a big difference.
- Host a library visit. Have any friends who don’t have library cards? Pile them into the car and introduce them to that wonderful world. A lot of techies these days think the library is archaic. Not so. They’ve just forgotten or never learned the Truth About the Library (see above for that truth).
- Join your local Friends of the Library The Friends usually do things like assist the library physically and hold book sales and other sales to raise funds. It doesn’t take much time to be involved, and it can really make a difference.
If nothing else, just make sure you take your littles to the library every week for the month. Bake cookies for the librarians. Tell them how much you appreciate their efforts. Everybody loves to hear they’re doing a good job. Most of all, when you do visit the library, stop at the door. Inhale the scents and the silence. Let yourself be transported the way you were when you were little. And make sure your littles love it like that. After all,