🎋The Library🎋… by JoAnn

A row of bookshelves filled with books in a library.

When I began elementary school back in 1968, I loved everything about it. From riding that big yellow bus early in the morning to all the new kids I met in class. I loved my teachers, my school supplies, and the school lunch. But the thing I loved most of all was when we made our classroom’s weekly trip to the library.

I only had a few children’s books at my home. My mama didn’t drive, and we lived too far from town to walk. So I had not been to the public library. In fact, I don’t believe I had even heard the word library until our teacher explained we would be going to the school’s library once a week. I wasn’t sure what she was talking about, but she mentioned books. This library was beginning to sound very interesting. I knew I loved the books given to me as Christmas and birthday gifts.

We all lined up like little yellow ducklings and followed our teacher down the school’s hallway to the door that went outside. Once outside, we headed towards this other little red building. It sure looked special. We went up some shaky metal steps and through the door. When I got inside and looked up, I was speechless. All around the room were shelves full of books! Neatly displayed all the way to the ceiling. I was in awe of the sight.

The librarian told us to sit at a table as she explained how we would be using the library, the rules we must respect while in the library, and how we are to take good care of the books. I had trouble paying attention to the librarian as I could not take my eyes off the books! They were everywhere. All colors, sizes, and thicknesses. All I wanted was to touch one. Just one. Hold it in my hands and know what an actual book felt like. These were different from the kid books I had at home. These were special.

Finally, we were told we could get up from our tables and look at the books. We could choose one and take it back to our table to enjoy ourselves quietly. I cannot tell you the title of the book I chose. All I can remember is how I felt holding it in my little hands. The texture of the cloth binding, the feel of the smooth pages inside, and the smell. The wonderful smell of that library book. I fell in love.

I was very disappointed when I learned we could not take the books home until 2nd grade. But I looked forward to every time we got to visit the library. And before I knew it, a school year had passed, and I was in 2nd grade. We could check out one book and take it home for a whole week. In 3rd grade, we could check out two books. In 4th grade, we were allowed to check out as many books as we wanted. By then, we were doing book reports and term papers and needing information only the library could provide. Imagine that, no computers or Google.

One day I came across the poetry section of the library. I was instantly hooked. I took home as many poetry books to read over the weekend as the librarian would allow. I was so excited and did not care how heavy the stack was. I happily toted them home and enjoyed spending my weekend reading all the poems I could.

It’s been a few years since I stepped foot inside a library. Most people download from the internet what they want to read and read directly from their phone or tablet screens. But I still prefer the feel of an actual book in my hands. The crisp black ink printed on the soft white paper. Turning each page with love and care. And don’t get me started on a picture book. I would own every coffee table book in print if I could and spend my days looking through the beautiful photographs.

I’m sure more kids today choose technology over actual printed material. They may laugh at my fond memories of days spent in the library. That’s okay. My hope is they have their own wonderful memories.