In honor of the 60th anniversary of National Library Week, I thought it only fitting that I take a moment to reflect on my relationship with and love for libraries. I was about 5 or 6 when my Mom took me to the library and signed me up for my very first library card. We were living in Redlands, California at the time and I remember feeling like such a big girl that day. For as Rita Mae Brown said, “When I got my library card, that’s when my life began.”
Despite not being able to read myself, and knowing that whatever books I picked out would have to read to me, my Mom still felt it was important for me to have my own library card both to further my love of books and to provide me with a sense of responsibility and being a big girl. I can remember using my new card to check out 5-10 picture books to be read to me by one of my parents at bed time over the next week, and then being taken to the library the following week to trade in my books for new ones.
Since that very first library visit, I have continued to actively utilize my local library over the years. After moving to Colorado Springs, Colorado in the third grade, I began to enter the Pikes Peak Library Districts annual summer reading program. I spent my summers reading a variety of books in vast quantities in order to fill out the book challenge form and receive as many rewards as possible for having read the most books over the summer. Once I became too old to take part in the children’s summer reading program, I spent my summers volunteering at my local branch and working with the next generation of readers by encouraging them to continue their love of reading by distributing prizes.
During the school year, the library was the place I would visit on the weekends to check out books in order to complete research and write reports on a variety of subjects. In a time before the internet, the library along with its card catalog was where I would find all of the answers I was looking for, answers that helped me grow as an individual and intellectually. The use of the library as a research location only increased upon entering college where every trip I took to my campus library was to either check out materials needed for writing papers, or to meet up with classmates as we worked on a class project together.
It wasn’t until I finished college that I signed up for what became my third (Aurora Pubic Library) and fourth (Denver Public Library) cards. The library continues to be a prominent fixture in my life as I borrow both physical and ebooks that are on my never-ending to be read list; but, the library has also become my Blockbuster Video in an age where video rental stores have gone the way of the Dodo.
Libraries have made such an impact on me that along with visiting some of the top bookstores on my travels, I also find myself spending time at libraries while on my travels as well. It is because of my love of and for libraries that I have written this post. To all the librarians, the libraries and those who love the library as I do, Happy National Library Week!
“Libraries are reservoirs of strength, grace and wit, reminders of order, calm and continuity, lakes of mental energy, neither warm nor cold, light nor dark… In any library in the world, I am at home, unselfconscious, still and absorbed.” – Germaine Greer