Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

For The Love of Libraries

 library5 When I think of libraries, I remember the cool, dim air wrapping around me like a welcoming hug. Such a contrast to the brilliant summer heat. And there before me, stretching as far and wide as I could see was all the wonder and adventure held by hundreds of thousands of pages.

I don’t know if I am waxing a bit poetic as we are leaving National Poetry Month, or if the imprint libraries have made on my heart is so toxic that I just can’t seem to help myself. 🙂

I remember visiting the library frequently as a child. I was thrilled to think that I could take that small stack of five carefully chosen, brightly colored books home and they would be mine for two whole weeks. All MINE!

When I was in early grade school in Minnetonka, Minnesota, I would help the librarian shelve books after school while I waited for my mom to finish work. I learned the Dewey Decimal system early on and took great pride in pushing those heavy wooden carts loaded with books around the room.

In all the schools I have attended and all the places I have lived, I  have known many libraries. Some were like wide open spaces designed to echo the librarian’s shush. Others were old, with creaking wooden floors and dusty staircases, dimly lit and full of secrets. In each one there was always a brightly colored corner, or if we were lucky an entire room! dedicated to children’s books.

To this day, I am most strongly drawn to this area. This is where the tables and chairs are only knee-high, and there are open areas for lounging with piles of books. The shelves are low and sometimes messy. And if you are very lucky, you will arrive at story hour.

Yes, I have attended story hour as an adult if I am lucky enough to time it right. There is no greater pleasure than to have someone read to you. And what fun to do it while surround by tiny people who are so caught up in the story that their mouths hang open a bit in awe and they freeze sometimes in mid-wrestle with a sibling. 🙂

While I was busy sharing poetry with you all last month, I let National Library Week pass without a mention! April 13-19 celebrated libraries in all their glory, from castle-like libraries on Ivy League campuses to vast ones in large cities, to the tiny neighborhood libraries that are still using the card-catalog, to the tiny mailbox sized ones and ones on wheels.

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Many people may see the library as a quaint but dying tradition. In this age of new technology, many libraries struggle to find funding as patrons find other ways to find reading and research material. But let’s not forget that libraries offer community and resources and maybe most importantly, libraries – even the tiniest one – offers respite from our busy lives.  The pace inside a library is a bit slower, and time seems to move just a little bit slower.

If you haven’t been to a library for years – go! Get yourself a library card and let yourself get lost in the stacks for a few hours. It is time well-wasted, I promise.

For further reading:
What Would a World Without Libraries Look Like? Kids have their say
Five Good Reasons to Take Your Kids to the Library Today
Libraries are Dying? Think Again
50 Most Beautiful Libraries in the World

2 Comments

  1. A couple of years ago, I did just as you suggested & invested in a library card (only $6/year). Counting pennies, it seemed a wise choice to get reading material into my home. I was shocked to see the libraries here though. I remember libraries in Wpg. (when I was much younger) as being places where you could find sections filled with books to choose from. The Edmonton libraries had sections but there were so few books in each section. I was alarmed to see there were only 4 books by Stephen King in the Horror/Science Fiction section. I went to another section looking for the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon & was shocked to see none of the Outlander books, but just the spin off books. I tried not just one, but 3 different libraries (including the main one) & it was the same in every one. Just small sections with few books. I was disappointed in my experience.

    • Oh, how sad! I know that here in the States they say that libraries are dying – especially with increasing technology. They say books are dead and no one reads anymore. I find that incredibly sad. Libraries are boosting the electronic services they offer to draw people in, but they are, thankfully, still filled with books.

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