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.