Monday, September 26, 2005


I can still hear my shoes tapping on the cement steps, leading up into the Carnegie Library. It was a magnificent building that housed great masterpieces of the written word. Located on the main street of a small town where we used to go, it was a much anticipated stop in our day.

At the top of the stairs, the wide doors opened into a grand room filled from floor to ceiling with books. Shelves and shelves of wonderful stories; colorful spines of different sizes and widths calling to me. A lifetime of reading at my tiny fingertips.

I loved the library. The hushed voices, the echoing footsteps on tiled floors, the long, tall counter where the librarian stamped our books, cards at the back of each in vanilla-colored pockets, the smell of paper - old and new - and brick walls, cool to the touch.

My sister and I were allowed to check out records to bring home as well; smooth, vinyl discs grooved with words and music that took us to places filled with mystery and intrigue. Each loan was a precious gift we were allowed for two weeks; 14 days of adventure and story-telling. A visit to the library was the highlight of our trip, and the ride home was often spent looking through our new-found wealth.

There were no computers back then, no summer reading programs, no fancy themes. No surfing necessary, no magnetic beepers to walk through. It was simpler times. Time spent sitting cross-legged on the floor with a treasure in our hands. Time spent looking at colorful pictures and wonderful descriptions. Time spent traveling on magic carpets in fantasy worlds and riding horseback through centuries past.

We left the library with a sense of excitement; a new adventure tucked under our arm, a story in our pocket. Sometimes old, sometimes new, but always a gift and always....enough.


srp said...

Libraries come in all sizes and shapes but all wonderful. In the Calumet area of Gary, Indiana we had a bookmobile that was essentially a trailer on the corner of the street. I remember a large shade tree next to the silver trailer. It stayed put all summer and one summer I read most of its offerings.

clew said...

I'm with you. I was always at the library as a kid, and the smell of paper that you mentioned is a fondly recalled memory.

I un-posted my prose ... decided it was "too close to home". Thanks for your comment though. Treasured as always :)


Gleyes said...

The library was, and still is, one of my favorite places in the whole world. I used to go there when I was a kid and just hide in the stacks. It was housed in an old brick house and smelled musty and like books are supposed to smell when they have the scent of history permanently attached to their pages. I brought more books home than I could read in the allotted time, but, it would have been horrible to run out of pages before I ran out of time to read them. I much preferred having more books than I could devour. Renewal was always the happiest option. We are such kindred spirits, you and I. I love the peace of your blog and the sweetness of the outlook you have on life. I envision us one day walking among the flowers and the cows at sunset talking about our lives and kids, exchanging stories and crying happy and sad tears...Thanks for your faithfulness. You are dear. Love, your friend, Charlotte.

Rebecca said...

I've always loved the library. My parents taught me to read at an exceptionally young age; so years prior to starting school, my Mom and I would make trips every other day to the library. All the librarians knew me quite well, and I have wonderful memories of them selecting books for me to read. I picked my own books, but it was a great treat to have them waiting for me to arrive with a special book in mind. With the onset of computers and the trendiness of purchasing books at Barnes and Nobles, Borders, etc...libraries aren't quite as appreciated I think. I make a conscious effort with my four year old to bring him and have him participate in reading groups (story time), as well as "borrowing" books from the library, rather than my buying them for him. I think it's a tradition that needs to be instilled in all families. :)