Wha? It's National Library Week?
I can't believe I almost missed this opportunity to shout this from the blogger mountaintop—"Libraries are full of awesome!"
Libraries were some of my first babysitters and books some of my best friends. My family moved from state to state every few years or so in my elementary years, and the library was a constant we came to count on. Some of my earliest memories are spending afternoons with my little brother at the Cedar Roe Library in Roeland Park, Kansas. And this was before computers, folks. All you could do was read. Hours spent in the aisles, thumbing through The Boxcar Children, Anne of Green Gables, Nancy Drews and Choose Your Own Adventures. And some vague recollection of fish. And puzzles. Go figure.
In my middle and high school years, my brother and I would take the bus by ourselves to go to the library in Milwaukee. I read more. I met the occasional boy. I did homework without an Internet. Good times.
In college, the library was so large it was frightening at first. Card catalogs were still en vogue, the stacks were really stacks and stacks of magazines, journals and such, and students were serious. These weren't kids just writing five-paragraph essays. Lives were getting underway in this building. And it was the first time I really wasn't looking for the latest VC Andrews. I discovered libraries were more than just books. They were film repositories. Archives of newspapers and magazines and research periodicals. Genealogy records. History at my fingertips.
Now, as an adult, I've made even more memories with my library card. Sure, there are all the books that have nestled into my soul—too many to name. But more importantly, there's been the legacy of the library. Introducing my kids to the joy of reading. Checking out Frog and Toad. Taking my sons to storytime at our small little branch library in Okemos, Michigan—a library I still miss for its size, because I knew exactly where the cookbooks were and could scan in just a few seconds if there were any new releases in fiction. Signing up the kids for our summer reading program here in Glenview. We are so incredibly fortunate to have such an amazing, FREE or low-cost resource available to us. Movies, games, music and more. Thanks to my library, my 15-year-old can now to the best impression of Charles De Mar from "Better Off Dead." It's not the same as reciting a sonnet from memory, but it is pretty damn funny. And of a goofy movie gets him in the door, I consider it a success.
You know what else? The very best people hang out in libraries. Sure, there's the occasional grumpy librarian—a requisite to create the cliche. But for every grump there's 10 people happy to assist you—even when you are looking for a book, and you don't know the title, you don't know the author. You just know there's a girl named Katherine and your friend said you HAD to read it. Librarians are badass in their research skills.
Libraries help seniors connect to Facebook. They teach teens make things out of duct tape (cool!). They offer quiet respite to kids who don't have a safe place to study. Libraries support and promote authors, and refuse to give power to those who would rather ban a book than actually read it. There's homework assistance, basic technology classes, and even a program that lets more people get into local museums for free.
If you haven't been to your local library, I beg of you—go. You won't be sorry. And if you love libraries as much as I do, let them know the next time you're there.
What's your favorite library? Comment on it and tell me where and why. Spread the love!
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