The public library: a weekly fixture of my childhood
The library of my childhood holds a special place in my heart. I grew up in a small town (pop. 1700) in northeastern Colorado, and the library was literally one of the only attractions in the whole town. It was built in 1931 and has served as a public library ever since.
My earliest memories are of going to Story Hour on Tuesdays. The library was closed on Tuesdays, which meant we could use the open space in the middle of the room (there's a computer station there now, which was a monumental event in and of itself). During Story Hour, we learned nursery rhymes, songs, and read stories, and we even had a yearly program to show off our accomplishments.
The view from the entrance.
See the bookcase with the short shelves facing out? That's the Young Adult section.
Also, note the computer station, where the four chairs are lined up.
My next memory is of going to preschool in the basement, where I had to descend a narrow set of squeaky stairs and navigate a frightening turn part way down. There were no books in the basement. It was just used for community meetings and, of course, preschool.
Then came years and years of the summer reading program. Now that I'm in a larger city, I can see that there were some benefits to living in a small town, and one of them was the summer reading program. Our prizes were phenomenally better than the prizes my boys received this summer and included Little Debbie brownies, juice boxes, cans of pop, full-size candy bars, bags of chips, bookmarks, balls, and other toys. You received a prize for every two hours of reading, so you could make bank and keep a stash of snacks that would last the entire summer. Plus, after 20 hours of reading, you earned a book, and there was a wide range of high-quality books to choose from. I usually earned 4-5 each summer.
As a teenager, I volunteered at the library where I learned the ropes of a card catalog (that was made up of actual index cards!), ISBN numbers, and the Dewey Decimal system.
Through this all, the library had exactly one librarian. Yes, that's right. One. Her name is Jan, and she is a dear family friend and still works there to this day. She ordered hundreds of books for my family through the inter-library loan system, and she often purchased books for the library she knew we were interested in. We never gave her a library card; we were such familiar faces, she just kept our cards on file. She would stamp the card in the book with the due date, and I loved to check out a book that hadn't been stamped in years. It made me feel like I was doing the book a service so it could stay on the shelves a little longer.
Jan the Librarian
(I remember when she upgraded to that desk...another memorable event)
On one of our recent visits to Colorado, I excitedly told Aaron that I was going to show him the library I went to when I was a little girl.
To say he was a little bit dumbfounded would not be an exaggeration. I think he was looking for the rest of the library, not knowing that what he saw was the whole package. He was even more flabbergasted when I escorted him over to the children's section and encouraged him to pick a book. In the weeks since that visit, he will sometimes say to me, "Remember your teeny tiny library, Mom?"
The children's section
Yes, I remember. And even though it might be teeny tiny, I am so grateful I grew up with a library just a bike ride away. Not all small towns are so lucky.
With this post, I'm participating in Where in the World Are You Reading?, a monthly meme hosted by Kelly, Lisa, and Trish.