Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Best Way to Spend a Saturday

The things that I love about myself are the things that I have carried with me since my childhood. One of those things is a love for books. If you knew me in real life, that would surprise you. English was always my weakest subject. I was good at reading speed, but often had trouble comprehending what I had read. I also struggled with imagery. (From my best recollection) When I read The Grapes of Wrath in 10th grade, Steinbeck described the vast expanse of the dusty plains of Oklahoma during the DustBowl. I thought it was all about weather and landscape. Booorrring. It never occurred to me that it was a metaphor for the emptiness and desolation of their nomadic existence.

However, even though I struggled through Lord of the Flies, A Brave New World, and Great Expectations, I still loved books. My love for books is not just the books themselves, but rather the mecca of books. No, I'm not talking about Barnes & Nobles, or even Amazon.com. I am talking about the Library.

My childhood library was Daniel Boone Public Library. It was a one-story library with mustard-colored carpet. The children's section had seating of child-size melamine chairs and, of course, bean bag chairs. I went there as a pre-schooler for story hour. I went there as an elementary student to research my report on Michigan. I went there as a middle-schooler to work on Girl Scout badges. I went there as a junior-high student to arm myself with facts and resources for a debate on AIDS/HIV (this was in 1984, when AIDS was just coming into the headlines.) I went there as a high-schooler for study groups, and as a meeting place for the little girl who I babysat. I went there when I was 18 to register to vote. I went there as a high-school graduate to research scholarships.

I never realized how much I loved that library, until I saw a program on PBS today, where there was a photograph of a Bookmobile. Do you know what a Bookmobile is? Did you ever get into one? If you haven't, it's basically a big truck, owned and operated by the local public libray, that has tons of library books on it. The bookmobile would travel from school to school and loan out books to students. They could be returned to the bookmobile or to the public library. I used to love bookmobile day. It was the best day of all in elementary school. I can still picture that big brown box truck, and I can smell the combination of exhaust fumes and musty pages. But do you know why that smell would not be unpleasant to me? Because that smell meant I was getting books! Books like Ramona Quimby, Age 8 and Are You There God? It's Me Margaret and Half Magic. I could have them for FREE and all I had to do was bring them back in 2 weeks.

My mom was never a big fan of the Lucky book club, or Scholastic, or any of those special colorful order forms that came home in my backpack. And, honestly, I never wanted those books anyway. I preferred the hardback books from my Daniel Boone library. But I always wanted that kitty poster which urged me to "hang in there". I think I finally got it when I paid for it myself with my own allowance. Now in 25 years my kids will be saying the same thing about me.

When I got to college, I remember thinking how utterly useless the University library was. Why in the world would I want to read the dissertation paper of some doctoral student? I wanted the latest Danielle Steel novel! But, they didn't carry that stuff. So, I went off to the BOONE COUNTY Public Library (see the parallel there? spooky, I know) to scratch my reading itch during college. And, from that day on, I have never been without a library card. I even sought out the library when I did a semester abroad in Ireland. As an adult, my husband and I have moved to half a dozen places in our 12 years of marriage. And, in every single new city, the first place I find is the library. It is an air-conditioned oasis in the summer. It is a refuge to cure cabin fever. It is a free DVD borrowing station. It is a place to get questions answered. It is home to dozens of friendly faces. It is a home base for studying. And so much more.

So, today, we are off to the library. We have a few DVD's to return and I am going to investigate the photography books. Linus will probably check out a few more Magic Tree House books, Charlie Brown is reading lots of Goosebumps lately, and Peppermint Patty is really into the Rainbow Magic Fairies books. At least I won't have to smell exhaust fumes/sweaty child/musty book smell.

7 comments:

Anna See said...

wonderful! i feel like i am standing in that library right now! the smells, the memories, the pages to discover.

you cracked me up about the poster. i wanted it too!

Mama B said...

We are supposed to go the library today, but my husband is currently a fugitive with too many fines!

I love the library! I also have very fond memories of our bookmobile. (which was also brown) and the awesome driver who would bring special books for me. Yep, I'm smelling it right now and remembering...

THE OLD GEEZER said...

When I was a child reading was very difficult for me and that carried on into my adult life.
I never really read a book all the through until I read The Bible. Most of my reading now days is on the internet.

Your love for books is a wonderful thing to have and is a great gift for you to pass on to your children.

I hope you and your family have a good week.

Ron

GunDiva said...

I loved the Bookmobile! And the library. I don't visit there as much as I used to because now I just buy books to read. My problem was that I'd love the books so much I'd have a hard time giving them back and those book fines can really get out of control. I took the kids a lot when they were little until it became apparent that they are their mother's children. Those darn fines.

I know, I know, just return the books on time. Easier said than done for me.

Karen said...

I loved the library and the bookmobile. One place we lived, the library was in a metal builting shaped like a tube. Was it called a quonsant hut? I don't know but it was a cozy place. I still check out books because I am too cheap to buy them. LOL

Emily said...

I was a book worm too...and I really hope my kids are the same way! :)

nicole said...

Oh I love the library! One of the greatest ideas man has ever had.