This week is National Library Week. I have been thinking about how important books and libraries have been to me throughout my life.
The first library that made an impact on me was our home library. I come from a family of readers, and we always had books around us. My parents read to me often when I was little, and I was an early reader. There wasn’t a lot on television – I think we got three channels, including PBS. There wasn’t much else to do for entertainment – especially in the winter – so it was “read or die,” as my dad once described it. I’ve found as an adult, especially in this time of social distancing, that being able to entertain oneself through simple enjoyments such as reading is a priceless skill.
The second library that made an impact on me was the public library. I grew up in a very small town. When I was little, our library was tiny and in the same building as city hall and the liquor store. There may not have been much there, but I don’t remember feeling that our choices were lacking. I discovered a lot of books there, from the Baby-Sitters Club to Stephen King. When I was in high school, a new library was built in the new community center constructed downtown. It was there that I signed up for my first library card (before that I just used my parents’). My library account shows that I got my first Plum Creek Library System card in 1995. I’m proud of that.
The third library that changed my life was my school library. Our elementary and high school buildings were connected. There were two libraries right next to one another in the newer part of the building – one for elementary and one for high school. Both are vivid in my memory. In high school, our librarian started recommending classics to me. She was the person who put “Great Expectations” in my hands and started what has been a lifetime love of the classics. I think my love of long books started there also. We had Accelerated Reader (yes, way back then), and we always had a competition to see who could get the most points. I liked to read longer books and get a lot of points all at once. I think the book I read with the highest number of points was “Gone With the Wind” (71 points).
All of these libraries have influenced me greatly, and helped send me down that path I’m on today. My life wouldn’t be what it is without my love of books and libraries.
Happy National Library Week!