Sunday, April 30, 2017

After speaking at the Kingsburg Library yesterday, I began thinking about libraries I have utilized and loved.

Libraries have been an important part of my life. My family were readers, and though there were only a few books in our home when I was a child, we frequently went to the Carnegie library where we lived.

It was an adventure for me. I remember sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of a shelf of children’s book while my mother and my older sister perused the adult section. At the time I hadn’t learned to read, so I looked at the pictures and imagined the stories. It never occurred to me to ask to take one home. I guess I thought that privilege was only for adults.

But when I was about five, I was allowed to borrow a book. It is still a vivid memory.
The cover was illustrated in red and green Scotch plaid. Of course, the story had to be read to me. It was about a Scottish boy whose parents had died. His father was from the highlands and his mother from the lowlands. The families of the parents argued over which branch would have custody of the boy, and a big argument ensued. As the story came to a close, a compromise was reached. The boy would spend the summers with highland family and the winter with the lowland branch.

I was hooked on stories and books ever after.

My sister, fifteen years older than me, was a teacher with much experience with children. Worried that I might damage the library book, she said, “Don’t open the covers too far, like this.” She gave a partial demonstration of what I was not supposed to do. “The book will cry,” she said. “You don’t want to make the book cry.”

Up to that moment, it had never occurred to me to bend the book covers back like that. But as soon as she was out of sight, I had to test it. I opened it until the covers touched. Alas, no tears appeared. I remember thinking it was a silly to imagine a book would cry.

How about you? Do you remember your first book? How have libraries impacted your life?

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