A love affair with libraries

appleton-city-public-library-2010-by-alicia-rudnicki

Public libraries, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

Okay, so I’m not Elizabeth Barrett Browning. And I don’t have enough space here to list all the many reasons why I am so enamored of public libraries.

For many of you, libraries may be the last things you think of when you hear the word “passion,” although it is possible to find a number of websites prominently flaunting the key phrase “library lust.” I am passionate (at least in a mental way) about public libraries and want to share some reasons why.

So here is reason number one: I love to read.

I didn’t always feel that way. When I was little, there wasn’t tremendous pressure to learn academic skills in kindergarten like there is today. I felt no need to find meaning in the funny pages or the few children’s books in my home.

My unruly siblings and I didn’t have parents who read us bedtime stories. My mom and dad were just glad to get us all tucked in at night. I didn’t know what I was missing.

Nobody ever told me that reading was important until I met Miss Hurst, my stern, white-haired, first grade teacher. I was surprised when she scowled at my lack of A-B-Cs. Miss Hurst wasn’t one for shilly shallying or dilly dallying, either. So I learned how to read immediately.

But it was my neighborhood library that made me love the printed page. It was a tiny bungalow, no more than 500 square feet in size that opened the adventurous world of reading to me.

I began with picture books and fairy tales, and then moved on to Nancy Drew and other children’s mysteries. Showing great wisdom, my mother never interrupted me when I was reading even if I was shirking my chores.

Being a young child who knew nothing about property taxes, it appeared to me that all this magic was for free. But that’s a topic for another day.

How about you? How did you feel about libraries when you were a child?

Alicia Rudnicki©, Denver Library Examiner, examiner.com, 2009

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