Falling in love at the library - CharlotteObserver.com
When I read this article I was reminded of my own early library experiences in a small Nebraska town.
When I was in first grade I started attending the public school in the small town of Homer, Nebraska. For Kindergarten I went to the one-room schoolhouse a half mile from my home, but now I was going to "town school." For a shy child it was a bit overwhelming to go from a classroom of 10 where I was the only kindergartner, to a room of 35 first and second grade students.
Because the district consolidation had just started there was no bus service, which meant that my mom and the other moms in our area shared car-pooling duties. But, one day a week, my mom picked me up and took me to the public library in this small town. It was just open 1 or 2 afternoons a week, and I don't know what led her to this weekly activity, but I'm forever grateful she did it.
The library was very small - just one room in a storefront. The children's section consisted of a few shelves. I obtained a library card by paying 10 cents. The librarian took an index card and wrote my name on it. Whenever I borrowed a book, she checked it out by writing the title on the card. When the card was filled up I paid another dime and started another card.
My mom took me to the library every week during the school year and summer. When second grade started my sister, now in kindergarten, and I rode the brand-new school buses, which put an end to my weekly library excursions for awhile.
However, at some point during second grade my mom and my teacher, Mrs. Harris, decided that I should be allowed to go to the library. There was no centralized school library at this point, and I'd read all the books in our classroom library. So, once a week, I would leave school, walk to the library a couple of blocks away, check out my book and walk back to school in time to catch the bus home. I was 7 years old. Obviously this was 1964, and a much different time.
In third grade the new school building was finished and contained a central library where we were allowed to go when we had finished our assignments. This put an end to my school-day visits, but I continued weekly library visits during the summer.
I shall be forever grateful to my mom, my teacher and the librarian Mrs. Esch, who all encouraged me in different ways to appreciate reading. I remember vividly the books I read: The Moffats by Eleanor Estes, all the Bobbsey Twins, and so many more. It's because of them that I still love to read and love to pass that love of reading on to other children.
In my job as a librarian I hear a lot of talk about the future of libraries. I know the world is changing, and if I want to read something I can find it online and download it to a machine and read it. And I really don't have a problem with that - I think that there are advantages to ebooks. But to me there is nothing more thrilling than walking into a building full of books and wandering around, pulling a book off the shelf, reading a few pages and deciding whether or not to continue reading or move on. I'll always be a library user, and I suspect that I'm not alone.