National Library Week: Celebrating How Libraries Shaped My Life

BlogHer Original Post

National Library Week, celebrated this week of April 14-20, always takes me to random places in my memory. As an avid bookworm, it's no surprise that I am a supporter and lover of libraries. The libraries of my life have supported me over the years, as I have grown through various stages and phases of my life. I can't even begin to play the "what if" game, to consider what my life might have looked like without the series of libraries in my life. I am thankful and blessed for this trip through the stacks of my life.

I remember being a young girl, traipsing up the steps of the Carnegie Public Library in East Liverpool, Ohio to get my first card. The vast ceiling and the slight echo made the experience all the more magical. I remember walking up and down the rows of the children's section, amazed that I could read one, any and all of these amazing books. I remember the first time I forgot to turn in a book on time, the shame and horror of abusing my library privilege washing over me as I hid the book in my night stand drawer for a week... only accumulating a larger fine. I remember how polite the librarian acted when I turned that book back in with the change to pay my fine; I wanted to hug her but did not. As a young girl, the library brought me awe and mystery and a love of reading, a respect for something bigger than myself.

In high school, I found myself to be the slightly-geeky girl who preferred to get lost in a book to the other distractions offered teens. I checked out books for fun, not just for assignments, making me the target of jokes from friends. I didn't mind too much; reading became my escape from the stresses of trying to be the best in everything. College followed, and I found myself working at the campus library as part of my work study program. I helped other students find what they needed for their papers while I worked on my own homework. The silence of the old building became my escape from the stresses of college as a whole, both social and academic.

Years later, settled into a new city further in the middle of the state, I remember plopping down on the carpeted floor in front of a happy librarian with my six-month-old son. I clapped his hands and sang the songs. I pointed at the book the librarian read as he looked up at me, his eyes asking, "What are we doing here?" Eventually he fell to love storytime at the library on Tuesdays, and I began to make my first friends since moving to the area three years prior. As a young mother, the library brought me routine and solace through the dark days of postpartum depression and friends who didn't care that I wore spit-up on the back of my sweatshirt.

Cheeks at the Library

Now, with two boys who have discovered the joy of reading, the library holds new adventures for us as a family. Once a week and sometimes more, we drive to the newer branch of our local library, drop off books we read and reread and re-reread, and begin walking the aisles of the children's section. Our oldest son beelines for any and all things Star Wars. After picking one or two or three, I also point him toward some books I figure he might enjoy, and he usually does. Our younger son looks for books about bugs, fire trucks, and all things Elephant & Piggie. After they make their selections, they sit at a table in the children's section and begin to read their books...

Library Boys

...leaving me the freedom to walk the stacks alone, or with my husband, in search of the next perfect book.

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