For the Love of the Library

Childhood LibraryMy first memories of the library include huge slanted tables with picture books atop, a small room for story hours, and rows of encyclopedias for elementary school projects.  I remember the feeling of comfort and familiarity I felt upon entering the library of my youth – except that one time when I walked in with my very own quarters clenched in my small hand, sent in by my mother to apologize to the head librarian. I had colored all over Danny the Dinosaur. My mother was masterful in the use of effective consequences and teachable moments. I never colored in another library book and felt a small tinge of guilt every time I highlighted passages in a college textbook.

My love for the library only grew as I aged into adulthood, with a short hiatus during the first few years of college. You see, my university library used computer card catalogues. This idea terrified me.  It took a couple years for me to get comfortable with punching keys instead of pulling drawers to search for books.

After graduating and marrying a fellow library lover (that wasn’t meant to sound dirty), we moved to Kentucky and made our first appearance at the Lexington Public Library. It was at this point that my new husband learned of my Library Book Disorder (LBD). His first glimpse into my illness occurred as he rounded the corner from periodicals to fiction and saw only the very tip top of his bride’s head peeking out from behind a pile of books. I learned from my grandmother (apparently LBD is genetic) to check out more than you could possibly read by the due date because “you never know which ones you’ve already read.”

Kentucky LibraryA few years later, I sat in yet another beloved library, this time with a Rosebud upon my lap as the Itsy Bitsy Spider Climbed up the Water Spout and Five Little Monkeys Jumped on a Bed. That building and its rows and rows of books witnessed countless story hours and weekend visits from my family. I remember tearfully stepping out of that library for the last time more than a decade later, alongside my three children, none of whom still fit in my lap.

Just as the library was one of the last places we said goodbye to in Kentucky, it was also the first place we visited in Illinois. When my husband and I were settling upon our suburb, we made it a point to check out the local library. You can tell a lot about what a community values by its library.

I sit in that library now as I write these words. It serves as a source of peace, comfort, and inspiration for me, much as all of the libraries in my life have done.  There is an elderly woman down the aisle from where I now sit. She is carrying a plastic Target bag of books, nearly full to breaking. Perhaps she is getting a few extra, concerned that there are some she has already read. I look towards her and smile, knowing that I will always have a safe and nurturing place among the book rows of my local library.

This week is National Library Week. I write this post in honor of all of the libraries that have nurtured and comforted me throughout my life and the librarians and staff who run them. I will forever continue to support them with my overdue fees.
Most especially, this one is for you,  Melinda, my very favorite librarian.

Comments

  1. I love our library.
    The smells, the quiet, the knowledge.
    How about library THEN pie next time?
    Ok….. pie THEN library.
    Kari recently posted..“The 4 1 1 On The ATL”. That Means “The Details On Atlanta” For Those Less Hip. AKA- Me.My Profile

  2. Must be genetic! Dad and I have the same issue of checking out books we’ve already read. I love the library so much that I just started working there!

    • I heard about your new job, Sarah! I have tried for several jobs at the library here, but the hours never work. I’m glad they were willing to work around your schedule. I hope you love it!
      And I think of Grandma every single time I walk into any library.

  3. Libraries are magical. I spent so much time in ours when I was a kid. Thanks for letting me know about National Library Week! I had no idea.
    Keith Stewart recently posted..Is That a Chicken Leg on Your Wrist or Are You Just Happy To Be Here?My Profile

  4. Love the memories! I’ve always loved the library too. Something about skulking around between the stacks…

  5. YES! I, too, love me some library. My mom took me every week, and even as an adult, I get excited when I enter my library. So much potential! So many books! So little time!
    Cha Cha recently posted..Inspiration and vomit.My Profile

  6. Also? Super excited to meet you in Dayton! Looking forward to digging into your blog. :)
    Cha Cha recently posted..Inspiration and vomit.My Profile

  7. I love this. I’m a huge library fan also and have loved seeing how my children, too, love the library. It’s a place we can always go that calms them down and makes them happy, reminds them, maybe, of something essential. xo

  8. Oh, the library! When DH and I first started dating, it was a two-week long rendezvous at the library “studying” for finals. That wasn’t meant to sound dirty, either. I like Kari’s idea of pie + library, cuz you know, our library lets us bring food–we snack there all the time! :) What a wonderful tribute to a place of learning, comfort, and memories, Shannon!
    Sandra recently posted..MultitaskingMy Profile

  9. We are regulars at our local library, our daughter even started volunteering there a year earlier than they usually begin because they knew her so well. I love our library, it’s a beautiful old building up high on a hill with a great view. It used to have a library cat, which was perfect for my pet-deprived (my husband’s allergic) children.
    Ellen recently posted..Pump It UpMy Profile

  10. My daughter and I are library fans! I used to go crazy over Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys series at our local one room library back home. My teen is known for checking out many, many books to which I always say, ‘How can you possibly read all that before the due date?” To which she always says,”It’s so hard to choose and I can always renew them.”

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