Yes, I'm about a week behind on this challenge. I'm going to try to catch up as best I can over the next few days.
I love libraries. I still remember the first time I stepped foot in one. I was in Kindergarten, maybe first grade. And we'd been brought upstairs to the school's library. Every grade, kindergarten through 12th, used the same library. The section furthest to the right when you come in the door was for the really young kids - K through 3, probably. It held the picture books, and the ones for early readers. In the same "room", to the left of this, were the stacks for the 4th through 6th graders. Chapter books abounded there. I felt proud when I was able to move up to those books. Then you needed to go through a door to get to the HS side of the library. When you were in elementary school, you needed permission to go through that door. I think I got permission in 6th grade. And again, I felt so proud that I was able to go to the books that felt more my speed.
But back to that first time in the library. My class had been brought upstairs to the library - the strange and magical upstairs, at that time. Because upstairs was the High School. Almost everything we'd done was downstairs - well, except for music. But that was right around the corner and up the stairs from my classroom. This was half way across the school!
We sat in a circle in the children's section. Mrs. O'Dell, the librarian, was reading a story to us and telling us how the library worked. I was sitting somewhere near the back, I seem to remember. And I just kept looking at the books around me. I already knew the magic that books held - I'd been reading since I was 3 or 4. But the sheer NUMBER of books... I knew that I wanted to read every one of them, and I wanted to read them right now. I couldn't wait until we were given permission to take books out - 3 at a time, I seem to remember. I had a hard time choosing which ones I wanted.
I read the Bearenstain Bears. I read a book on how the body worked. I read fantastical stories in fantastical worlds. The library was the place where magic was at my fingertips. Where I may have had to bring these wonderful words back, but I knew I'd be able to get them out again whenever I chose. Books were like friends to me, and I was so glad to visit with them.
My view on libraries hasn't changed in the 30 years since my first visit. It's still a magical place. A place that offers so many things to me, my husband, my children. It's a place where I can try new things, find out about subjects that interest me, find music and video and books being read to me, for those times when my hands are too full to hold a book on my own. And best of all, it's a place where I know I'll meet more of my own kind. Bibliophiles needing their fix of something new - or maybe something old - to take hold of their imaginations for awhile. I will find people there that I can talk with about new books coming out, series that we've each enjoyed, and our wishes for what we'd like to see.
The library is my special place. It's a place that my heart recognizes as home.