If you have visited my Pinterest boards, one thing you may have noticed is that I love libraries. My board is full of grand and glorious libraries from all around the world. However, the best library, the most useful library, and the most accessible library is the one right in the town where you are.
I have dreamed of Beauty and the Beast libraries. But truly, the libraries that hold my heart are the local ones that have graced my life.
My first beloved: Grass Valley School Library, in Oakland, California. This is where I can still close my eyes and see exactly where Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books sat on the eastern wall (on a shelf right at floor level). My favorite princess anthology sat dead center on the northern wall, and when I first laid eyes on C.S. Lewis’ The Silver Chair, it sat on display on a table near the windows. (Rosemary Sutcliff’s Dawn Wind was located on the western library wall at King Junior High.)
When I attended the University of California, Berkeley, the main library awed me. The marble stairs had worn indentations that cupped your feet like loving hands as you went up the main stairs to those wonderful rooms. I loved the card catalogues. I had to do a paper for a Bibliography class, plotting the research for a fictitious project of my choice. It was amazing how many fascinating topics were housed in that long room, in those worn, oak cabinets, in their tiny drawers, on little cards. (And it was even more amazing the tantalizing books I discovered on cards neighboring the ones that were the object of my quest.) After graduation I willingly plunked down the money for a lifetime membership in the alumni society just so I could retain the right to use that fabulous library.
And I have precious memories of “story times” with each of my three children at our various local libraries. My daughter’s storytime library was housed in a little, red brick building in the old, gold rush town of Grass Valley, California. We’d enter the library, go down a creaky, little, narrow 1800’s stairway to the children’s room in the basement. It was a magical place. There my daughter was entranced by storytelling, read-alouds, and puppeteering, while I rediscovered my beloved Elizabeth Goudge. After storytime the two of us would go into the old brick building next door and up another creaky flight of stairs, to dine on Cornish pasties, a legacy of the Cornish miners who had populated the region, and look down on the activity in the streets below.
Does your hometown have a library? If it does, visit it. Make the trip special. Go to a story time or author visit, or simply to pick out books then go out for ice cream or something special afterwards. It could be as simple as an easy breakfast-for-dinner evening or hot dogs roasted over the bar-b-que, with plenty of time after to enjoy your library selections in summer’s long twilight.
This summer, visit a library. Even if you’re traveling, check out the library wherever you are. You’ll surely find something to delight you and your children, and to add to the treasure trove of your memories of life with books.