Thursday, October 27, 2011
Things on Thursday: The Library
I remember my mother taking me to the library when I was very little. I remember writing my name on check-out cards and the librarian putting the date stamp on the cards and in the books. I remember how we could check out as many as we wanted for free, the right of every person, rich or poor, old or young.
I remember the excitement of opening a new book and wondering what amazing characters and stories and places it would share with me. I remember words, words, words, and pictures.
I remember the different smells of paper in old and new books, the million shades of white and cream and yellow paper, the feel of smooth or rough paper and thick or thin, the sound of pages rubbing against each other and the cracking of spines, the feel of cloth-covered boards wrapped in slipcovers and of paperbacks.
I remember learning how to use the card catalog and Dewey Decimal system, and the amazement of finding a book just where the card catalog said it would be. I remember going to college and discovering the Library of Congress system and realizing how wonderful it was to get lost in the stacks in the PRs (English Literature) or the Ds (history).
I remember the graffiti in the library carrels. My favorite was "Free the Bound Periodicals."
I remember discovering inter-library loan in graduate school and suddenly the whole wide world of books and periodicals was just a request form away.
I remember deciding I needed to have my own library to dip into whenever the urge struck, and I have assiduously collected books my entire adult life. I remember deciding to teach myself how to bind books. I remember the joy of the first book I ever made. I remember feeling connected to anyone and everyone who ever made a book in the history of humankind.
Magic is in books and miracles are in libraries...from the ancient lost library at Alexandria to the tiny local library in your hometown.
I still love going to the library. I love taking my children to the library and letting them check out books. I love giving them the experience I had, watching them find just the right book for whatever journey through words and pictures they feel moved to take.
I love the magic of books. I love the adventure, the freedom, the accessibility.
I love the library.