I just finished The Library Book by Susan Orlean. Have you read it? I liked it. It’s part ode to libraries, part true crime investigation. But it leaves you with a renewed appreciation for libraries.
My favorite part? Orlean talks about her childhood memories of going to the library with her mom.
“I knew part of what hooked me had been the shock of familiarity I felt when I took my son to our local library – the way it telegraphed my childhood, my relationship to my parents, my love of books. It brought me close, in my musings, to my mother and to our sojourns to the library.”
I go to our local library a lot. I mean, A LOT. Once or twice a week – for the last 10 years.
Occasionally, I will head to the downtown Nashville library – but mostly I stick to our local branch – the Green Hills Library. It’s a white brick building on a quiet street – just a few blocks from the high school and post office. Inside, it is always the same. Smells the same; sounds the same. The branch has a neighborhood feel – people vote there, get help with their taxes. There is always a collection of handmade bowls or a child’s coin collection on display. In August, the trees outside lose their leaves too early. In late winter, there are rows and rows of daffodils that ring around the back of the building.
Almost all these trips to the library have been with my three kids.
The children’s section is set apart from the rest of the library – and has a little play corner and a special room for events and story times. On Tuesday mornings, two older women run a story hour. One reads, the other plays the violin. For years we were regulars, but now my children have outgrown it and it makes my heart ache a little when I see those ladies still singing the “Wheels on the Bus” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”
My kids are bigger now; all good readers. They roam the shelves on their own, picking out whatever books catch their eye. But even when they were tiny, they could scan and check the books out by themselves. The library has always offered a little slice of independence for my kids, in a childhood that is too often lacking in places where they can do things on their own.
And for years it was a haven for me – a place to go when I was stuck in a house full of babies and toddlers (even if I had to bring the babies and toddlers along with me). It has provided our family with an endless amount of (free!) entertainment. It has helped me raise kids who love to read.
My oldest, Jack, is 10. Now, he’ll yell a request for something as I am walking out the door – but doesn’t always want to come along. But I hope the memories of all our trips to the library stick with him.
“When I miss my mother these days, now that she is gone, I like to picture us in the car together, going for one more magnificent trip to Bertram Woods.”
Do you take your kids to the library? What is your library like?