I confess -- I've been having an affair that has lasted over half a century. Vibrant, passionate, and ongoing.
Yes, I'm in love with my library.
Always have been. Oh, the cities and the buildings have changed over the years, but the pure essence of library has stayed constant.
I first recall piling into the car (or taking the bus if Dad wasn't home to drive us) and going into town from our home in the country. Shopping, stopping for a soda at Eckerds Drug Store, all were fun, but the highlight was going to the library and filling our arms with books. I started with picture books and graduated to the Bobbsey Twins (Bert and Nan, Freddie and Flossie), The Wizard of Oz, all the Nancy Drew and Tarzan books, and so on. Sci-Fi kept my interest as a teenager (Asimov and Bradbury), and then I moved on to historical romances (which were pretty tame by today's standards).
There was a small library right next to the elementary school. On Fridays, our fifth grade teacher, Miss Artello, took us there to get a book or books. Then we either put our heads down while she read to us, or read our own books quietly while Miss Artello read hers. My favorite day of the week. In the summer I rode my bike to the library and took out as many books as the basket would hold. My ambition was to read every book in the tiny building, but as the books kept changing out, I never made it. Oddly that library is still open today although the school has long since closed.
In high school, my friends and I would study in the library on the Kent State campus and pretend we were college students. And when I was doing research for my graduate classes at the University of Buffalo, I enjoyed sitting in the carrel and knowing that not only did books surround me, they were stacked in the floors above and below me. I can't hear the word "stacks" without thinking of those thousands of volumes.
Libraries hold more than books, now. You can check out talking books, music CDs, and movies for free or a nominal fee. There are classes in computer literacy, programs featuring guest authors, even exercise groups. No one shushes you any more and the silence has been replaced by a low murmur of people exchanging computer tips or recommending the latest novel.
I have two e-readers, one for each of the major book sellers. I download books almost every day. But we still go to the library weekly. (The picture above shows part of the garden outside.)
As I unload my shopping bag of its plethora of books, Jim makes the same joke, "We brought back your library." Then we select more books, go home and relax in our favorite chairs, and open our latest find. The library books are first choice, the e-readers are backup in case I run out and the library is closed.
Closed. I can't even imagine it if the library were to close, not just for a holiday or weekend, but permanently. Some say it will happen.
I hope not in my lifetime.
And so I celebrate National Library Week -- and celebrate a love that has lasted a lifetime.