Monday, April 14, 2014

Lives Change at Your Library

This year National Library Week is April 13-19, and the theme is, "Lives change @ your library". (Yes, there's actually an @ in it. I'm not sure how I feel about that.)

The Berwyn Public Library played an important role in my development as a reader and a writer. I remember the glowing pride I felt when I received my first library card, and how I marveled at the responsibility of having something with my name on it. *I* was entrusted with the welfare of the books I checked out--not my parents--and I could choose what I wanted to read. It's empowering. A library card is like a TARDIS, giving the reader access to visit any time period and infinite worlds to explore.

I remember riding my pink Schwinn bike to the library on 16th Street and coming home with my basket filled with new books. The walk down the stairs to the children's section filled me with excitement. New books! To this day I'm excited by the promise of a new book. I love to wander the shelves and explore, looking for new series and new authors.

During college I worked in the main library at University of Illinois. I LOVED that job. The stacks are enormous--two buildings, ten floors each--and that's just the main library. According to the site:
The University Library holds more than thirteen million volumes and 24 million items and materials in all formats, languages, and subjects, including 9 million microforms, 120,000 serials, 148,000 audio-recordings, over 930,000 audiovisual materials, over 280,000 electronic books, 12,000 films, and 650,000 maps.
And I believe it, because I was a shelver. I also searched for books marked "not on shelf" for whatever reason. It's easy to lose a book in a library that enormous. I'd crawl all over looking for books that had fallen behind shelves, or that didn't fit on the shelf and were stacked on the floor. I loved that too. Me, rescuing knowledge and restoring it to the masses (you'd think I'd discovered the One Ring instead of a missing volume on crop production).

Libraries are so important to our communities. They offer not only books, but movies, music, Internet access, adult education programs, activities for kids and teens, tutoring, book clubs, writers groups, and more. Libraries are life changing.

What are your favorite library memories? Do you have a favorite local library?

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