After yesterday’s post lamenting the loss of old school blogging, I now offer a post that I may have previously hesitated to publish because, well, its subject seems a little silly but, then again, I’m free, right? So in the interest of blog fun I give you my ode to the library which I’ve chosen to subtitle…
Wherein I reveal that I really am the biggest nerd ever
Some of my happiest memories of growing up–and I have many–include our trips to the local library. I can still recall the smell, the hushed quiet, the wide staircase, the eager anticipation that greeted me upon entering the glass doors. I can see Buffy the bookworm performing at the summer reading program and I can feel the weight of my library card in my hand, my name proudly printed on the front in my stilted first grade script.
With this card I was allowed the privilege of checking out a maximum of six books. Thus, six titles at a time, I made my way through the many adventures of Nancy Drew and Sue Barton, as well as Cherry Ames and Encyclopedia Brown and Penny and Tippy Parrish and all of Beverly Cleary’s protagonists from Ramona to Henry to Ellen Tebbits.
I loved wandering the aisles, perusing the book jackets, flipping through pages. A happy memory, as I said, not an exuberant happy but a kind of slow, peaceful, luxuriant happy. The words, the stories, the books that awaited my discovery, these and the anticipation thereof were a source of delight to me, bibliophile that I was (am).
As I grew older our library trips grew less frequent. I have no library related memories of high school or even college (other than those late night pre-exam cram sessions during which I would often sequester myself in a corner cubicle of the library until closing time). My slow meander through the library aisles wouldn’t resume until I was a young adult.
Once married, I couldn’t wait to get my new driver’s license. Correct identification with a new name is cool and all that but I was the more eager to have that correct identification in order to get my library card. I became once again a regular patron, this time of the small branch library near our first apartment. At each subsequent move my first priorities always included obtaining a library card.
As the children came along, one right after the other, I would navigate the stroller among the bookcases, then a stroller and a toddler alongside, then a preschooler and toddler and stroller, then…
A funny story we like to tell on my youngest: when he, my baby, was a toddler, I would have to make a circutious route for our errand running in order to avoid driving past the library unless, of course, we planned on stopping. If he saw the building and we did not pull in he would cry and cry and cry, a library induced tantrum as it were.
We had our habit: upstairs first to the children’s books. Each boy would have a totebag to fill with his chosen books. Once everyone had browsed and chosen to his heart’s content, we would go downstairs. There they would sit, looking at their books on the sofa in the adult fiction section while I browsed and chose to my heart’s content. That image of them, my four boys, my babies, eagerly “reading” their books, patiently waiting on their mother, this is another happy memory among many happy memories.
Well, as these things generally go, the boys grew and we got busy and now we rarely go to the library, and not at all as a family. A couple of my guys are still voracious readers and nearly always have a book on hand, usually from their school’s library. I continue to be a loyal patron, but, for whatever reason, my visits are not nearly as frequent as in years past. Thanks to the wonder of technology, nowadays I can browse and search for books on my laptop and know exactly which titles are ready and available for check out before I even darken the doors. This streamlines the process, saves me time, and helps me choose books I am confident I will enjoy.
But sometimes I still, occasionally, go to the library without a list, with no agenda but to walk the aisles, browse the titles, peruse the book jackets, and flip through pages. All these words, these stories, these books ready and waiting to be discovered–this makes me happy. Still.