I was introduced to the treasures of libraries in elementary school. Our school library was paneled in dark mahogany and was, of course, very quiet; just walking into the room calmed me.
The nearest public library was a half mile from home and as soon as I was able to walk there on my own, I became a regular patron. By the time I was twelve, I was taking the bus downtown to the Main Branch of the Detroit Public Library.
The libraries in my young life were havens, offering me peace while there—and then adventures through the books I carried home.
I think it was no accident that my neighborhood library was named after Laura Ingalls Wilder; her books opened my eyes to a different way of life in a different era.
As a teen, I volunteered at my local library and was entrusted with re-shelving books. My reading list was influenced by which books repeatedly appeared on my cart.
Looking back, I can see that those early library experiences formed not only my love of reading but also my sense of adventure and love of travel.Libraries are a world I inhabit comfortably—no matter where they are.
In England last summer, I checked emails on the public computer at the Chipping Campden Library. A large jigsaw puzzle caught my eye. It was half finished, and the librarian told me everyone was welcome to help finish the puzzle. I brought that idea back to the cancer support center where I work, and we now have a puzzle in process.
Last week, doing research at the Wayne State University Library, I passed by their community jigsaw puzzle and wondered if the librarian there had also been to Chipping Campden!Libraries continue to offer new books, new programs, new ways for communities to come together and new resources. Although my relationship with libraries spans sixty years, I can still be surprised when I visit the library.
When I was checking out some books at my local library the other day, the woman at the counter said, “Just a minute,” and she walked to the far end of the counter. I wondered what was going on.
“You left this in a book you returned,” she said, handing me a bookmark with the Doors of Dublin printed on one side. It had been a gift from a friend who had visited Ireland. “How did you know it was mine?” I asked.
She explained than they flip through books before re-shelving them, and when they found the bookmark, they looked up who had most recently checked out the book.
The kindness of that gesture surprised me.
I realized that I expect library staff to be informative and helpful, but this was an act of kindness beyond anything I had expected. It was a pleasant surprise, and the positive feeling has lingered.
I feel so fortunate that I became acquainted with the library so young and grateful that I feel at home there.