What are we talking about today?

Some days have themes. I don't necessarily post something in each of these topic areas every week.

Sunday: Church-related or spiritual things.
Monday: Running.
Tuesday: Books.
Wednesday: Transportation.
Friday: Green living.

28 June 2016

Book-Shaped Life

When I was young, free library cards at our local library were restricted to people who lived within the city proper. While that policy has since changed, I discovered last week that the same local library carries not a single book by Richard Florida. It's like they're making up ways to interfere with my reading life.

I kid. This library was my second home starting from about age 9, and it's rapidly becoming so again as a happy place where I can get a lot of work done sans distraction (and without having to hand over cash, like I do at Starbucks).

So, my first library:

I simultaneously barely remember it but also remember it very, very well. My love of books may not have been born here--that's a hard spot to pinpoint--but I will give them heaps of credit for helping it along. It's definitely my earliest memory of being surrounded by bookshelves crammed with books, with the sacred scent of pages heavy in the air. By the time I came along, it was obvious that this building was inadequate to house the books a growing community needed, but that didn't stop me from weeping and gnashing my teeth when it was announced a new library was coming.

Incidentally, this building was a Carnegie Library, and it opened in 1909, next door to the then-high school. These days it's a restaurant.

Library #2 opened when I was in second grade (at least, that's what the library history page says. I would have guessed a year or two later), next door to the current high school. Also just a few blocks from my elementary school. I've presumed for most of my life that every elementary student in town got the same tour that my class did, but I really don't know. I certainly hope so. Anyway, when it was ready to go but not quite open, we walked to the library one afternoon for a tour and instructions on how to use the card catalog and the microfiche. I thought it was a palace. (I still do, truth be told.)

Once I reached an age when my parents thought I could be trusted to walk to the library after school without getting run over or wandering off, that's what I did, at least twice a week. On the library history page, there's this gem from much later on: "Library Director Susan Waggoner writes in the Daily Reporter that over 2,500 items for the month had been read 'in-house,' many by non-residents who chose not to pay for fee cards which would allow them to check out materials." I'm pretty sure a huge chunk of that was from me (in fact, I'd like to believe that my departure brought those numbers down a bit) until my parents decided they'd better get us all cards when I was headed into high school.

This building has housed a church for a few years, and now is undergoing renovation to be an alternative school setting for students who struggle in a traditional classroom.

Library #3 has never been "my" library, until now, kinda, even though I've been in it a few times on other visits home. To a brain shaped by two other libraries, walking into this one is a bit like coming home to find out your parents have moved.

However, it is a gorgeous building, a hub of all the community activity worth going to (IMO), and it has a very cool automated sorter when you return your books. Someone had the foresight to build a multiuse path up to in from three different directions (you're on your own if you live west of the library, it seems), so the trip there and the time spent there are both enjoyable.

Having one library as the library is taking some getting used to, since I've lived my entire adult life in cities that have multiple branches to visit. But that's a small thing when the only library available is still excellent, despite the lack of Richard Florida books.

What's your library like?


Gary Greene said...

Did you walk from your house or from Grandma's house or from school?

J E Oneil said...

There's only one library where I live. It's at the center of town, which was actually kind of a ways away from all the schools. It was a nice place though! I loved going there when I was little and playing in the playground afterward :)

Su Wilcox said...

@Gary: From school. The walk from home would have been about six miles--I wouldn't want to walk that far even now. (Running, maybe, but definitely not walking.) I did sometimes drop by my other grandma's house first back when she lived near the school.

@JE: Whoa, your library has a playground? That's awesome!