A Love Letter to Libraries
To My Childhood Library: While I was growing up you were my savior from boredom, a place where my siblings were required to behave, and a cool resting place on hot summer days. Back then, you held an entire wall of National Geographic magazine, and I remember my tiny hands as I struggled to pull piles of them from the shelves. I would sit at a large oak table, swaying my knobby knees. I soaked up everything I could at that lovely table. The smell of the ink and glossy paper would make me dizzy, and I took care not to tear the bright yellow binding. As I read about remarkable places and animals, my mind would retreat into the colorful photographs. No matter what was happening outside, I could always count on you to keep me safe and I always felt restored when I left. Back then, it was with you, my tiny library, where I vacationed.
To My College Library: We were basically roommates. A first, I didn’t appreciate you because you were so popular and busy! Sometimes I didn’t want to see you and would curse (a lot) as I lugged my bag up the stairs to search for a quiet spot. In spite of my grumpy visits, your quiet spots were the best, and years later, I am perpetually nostalgic for the color of your walls in late afternoon. The first time I saw my husband Patrick was in your computer lab. I will never forget the sound of his walk echoing in your hallways and the way my heart would ache. You helped me discover Flannery O’ Connor and Ernest Hemingway, and I can’t read either without thinking of you.
To My Local Library: It wasn’t until my son was born that I realized how much I need you. Remember those early days? I looked forward to the evenings when I could pass my perfect baby to Patrick, take a drive, and visit you. Sometimes I would read, but most of the time I was too tired. I would sit on the floor, stretch my legs out in front of me and lean against your beautiful books. Your strength was a comfort to my aching back, and the quiet would wrap around me like a warm blanket. In those early days of motherhood, visiting you reminded me of how far I’d come and how much there was left to do. Thank you for your vast (and dimly lit) fiction section. Thank you for always making me feel welcome even when I was unshowered and disheveled. Now, my family visits you every Wednesday for Nursery Rhyme Class and I wander through your doors on Saturdays when I should be grocery shopping. My family is absolutely addicted to spending time with you and I am so grateful for all the people that love and take care of you.
To All Libraries: Thank you for being a sanctuary. Thank you for your quiet pockets of community and giving me a place to feel grounded. Thank you for welcoming crying children and tired parents. Thank you for all your merits, too many to count. Thank you for always having something entertaining up your sleeve. Thank you for being free.