Thursday, August 21, 2008

Booking Through Thursday: Libraries

Inspired by Booksplease:

Whether you usually read off of your own book pile or from the library shelves NOW, chances are you started off with trips to the library. (There’s no way my parents could otherwise have kept up with my book habit when I was 10.) So . . . What is your earliest memory of a library? Who took you? Do you have you any funny/odd memories of the library?

The house I grew up in was a library all of its own. My father collected books right and left and my mother added to them. The shelves housed books of just about every kind. Is it any wonder then that I felt right at home in the school and public libraries? I most remember the weekly family visits to Belle Coolidge Library. The library was nestled in among store front shops and had a huge children's section (at least to this child's eyes). I loved to sit on the floor in front of the shelves looking at books, trying to decide which I would bring home with me. Others I read right on the spot. As I got older, you were more likely to find me at the paperback rack in the adult section, stacking up books to take home one right after the other.

The library held a summer program every year, encouraging children to read. There were all sorts of fun activities, including magic shows, visiting animals, book readings, and crafts. Every time a child read a book, their name was written on construction paper shaped like a fish, bat, heart, star or whatever the theme was that summer and placed high up on the wall of the library. I strove to be the most prolific reader each summer and while I may not have been the "winner" in the end, I always was among the top readers. On the final day of the summer reading program prizes would be given out, ice cream and popsicles served, and we would all celebrate our success.

As a young child in elementary school my favorite time of the week was library time. My class would file into the cozy school library and gather around the librarian who would read us a story. I was introduced to Beverly Cleary this way, and I would eventually go on to read as many of her books as I could get my hands on. It was there that I learned about the Dewey Decimal System and was introduced to new books and authors that I was encouraged to explore. The school librarian did not have the best reputation among the students. She was on the mean side and did not tolerate much. I adored her, however, and, while waiting for my mother who worked at the school as she finished up after hours, I often passed the time helping shelve and reorder books.

I would like to tell you I met my husband at the university library, but that wouldn't be true. Not really. We both worked in the university library, however. He was assigned to the reference section while I worked at the circulation desk. I wish now we had done cute things such as slip love notes inside a neglected book of poetry, but, alas, we weren't quite as romantic as that. We were more interested in exploring the computer lab, my then-boyfriend-now-husband teaching me how to use the internet. Years later I would make him proud by starting this blog.

Libraries have served me well over the years. They were my home away from home, an adventure to look forward to, and places full of wonderful memories created by not only the books that filled the shelves, but also the the people I met along the way.


  1. There was one person who posted about her marrying in the library, so you're the next closest to her.
    My response to the BTT prompt is posted. Come visit.

  2. I truly enjoyed reading your post! Very memorable one!

    Library memories and a giveaway

  3. Great reflections! I was surprised to see a new location for Belle Coolidge right on S Land Park when I was in Sacto, didn't get a chance to go in but it looked fantastic. Did you know Wenzel herself was a librarian too? :)

  4. Thanks for sharing those special memories. Visiting animals at the library are soooo cute! Library time for kids would be great to imbue in them the fun of reading. :)

  5. Wonderful post, Wendy! I enjoyed reading it. :)

    I really missed visiting the libraries since I rarely visit one nowadays... I keep buying books from the bookstores and am also worried that I might not return the library books on time (given my tight schedule). ;P

  6. Smilingsal - Now that would have been something! Getting married in the library . . . :-)

    Gautami - Thank you!

    Ketchup Sister - I vaguely remember visiting the new library and thinking how much bigger it was than the old one.

    I did remember that Caroline Wenzel was a librarian! My mother is teaching at Wenzel now--her own school having closed the year before last. It has been bittersweet for her in many ways.

    Matt - The library was where I got to touch my first snake. :-)

    Melody - Thank you! I rarely visit the library anymore either. I keep telling myself that when my TBR room isn't quite so full, I will start going again, but the room only seems to be more crowded with books. Haha

  7. How true - libraries are "my home from home an adventure to look forward to, and places full of wonderful memories created by not only the books that filled the shelves, but also the the people I met along the way."

    I no longer work in a library but I still spend many hours visiting. Great memories!

  8. I am a life-long reader and book fan. In the tiny town where I spent my first 14 years, the library was 10 feet of shelving on one wall of the post office. How wonderful it is now to live in a state (Wisconsin) that supports libraries.

    Although my profession is accounting, I have also been an occasional librarian, treasurer of our county Friends of the Library, and a trustee on the regional library board. I could go on for hours about libraries; let's just say that I am a big, big fan.

  9. Hi Wendy, I wish I had a romantic story to tell about library but alas, I don't. LOL. I really love that story about you and your husband meeting each other while working in the uni library.

    Have a great weekend! :D

  10. I <3 libraries, too. I remember in high school one of my friends got in trouble and had to do community service. He got to do it in a library. I was very jealous or his community service hours. I asked him, "Is it wonderful?" I remember him giving me a weird look and not answering. Maybe I romanticized it a little.

  11. I enjoyed reading about your childhood library memories. Summer reading programs were a big part of my childhood too.

    I know part of why I don't use libraries much anymore has to do with timeframes - I almost never read a book immediately after getting it, or even want to, so I like having my personal TBR "library" at home. But I wonder if another reason is that the libraries themselves are different now; the modern ones just don't have the same atmosphere as the ones I grew up with in New England.

    Great post, Wendy!

  12. Reading this post made me smile.
    Thanks for taking us on your short trip down memory lane. :)

  13. I agree, libraries are our homes away from home. Thank you for sharing your memories of being a young library goer. Wasn't it the best though when you finally wandered over to the adult section :)

  14. I loved library day each week when I was in elementary school! My school library was also open during summers and had a library reading program. I still have all of my certificates for completing those programs. I didn't get around to writing up a post for this, but I may do it belatedly since it is a topic "dear to my heart."

  15. Oh, I forgot to think about library day at school! I have great memories of that, though I never liked our librarian. She was a bit of a grouch. I do remember one period of my life, 4th grade maybe, that I would head to the Nancy Drew section every library day to see what mystery would be next!

  16. Margaret - I sometimes miss working in the library. I know my husband does too.

    KmKat - What a difference it must have been, going from a little library to a big one! That is wonderful that you are so involved with the local libraries. They certainly are a treasure worth protecting and supporting.

    Alice - You and me both then! Haha

    Nikki - I would have probably shared your reaction! I did enjoy working in the university library quite a bit. Sometimes I wonder why I wasn't smart enough to pursue a profession in library science.

    Florinda - I am the same way. I don't often get to new books coming in right away. Deadlines and I do not always work well together when it comes to reading.

    That's an interesting point about the difference in atmosphere of the libraries we grew up with and those of today.

    Nat - I'm so glad. :-) I enjoyed revisiting the past.

    Iliana - It was! I felt so grown up.

    Terri - I doubt my mom saved any of the records from my summer program days (she saved quite a bit else though). I remember those days so fondly.

    Suey - Mine was a grouch too, but she had a nice side as well that I got to see now and then.


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