When I was young, you were like a candy store, containing shelves bursting with color that made me want to drool. (When I was very young, I actually did drool. Sometimes on your books. Sorry about that.) My sister and I would sing “The Library Song” from our car seats on the way to visit you—I can’t recall the words, but by the time we reached kindergarten, there were several stanzas. I’m sure they were deeply lyrical and moving.
As I grew up, the library became one of my favorite places in our small town. It was there that I won my first writing contest, discovered a love of secret codes, and committed my first crime (leaving a library book in the rain was, to me, a capital offense). You brought me puppet shows and summer reading programs with cheap plastic prizes that I thought were treasures. You had book sales and how-tos on whatever craft craze I was currently obsessed with and apologetic tomes that I checked out in middle school to sort out what I believed and why.
It must have been in high school that I discovered the Christian fiction section, and I never left. The stories I found there—Dee Henderson, I’m talking to you—probably led me, eventually, to work in book publishing. So thank you for that.
But there are so many more reasons to thank you. Thank you for being filled with people who love books—for employing librarians who are willing to overlook a boisterous child who means well, anyway, and give her tips about what to read next. Thank you for hosting every period of history, every human emotion, every obscure topic, neatly organized on your shelves. Thank you for opening up new worlds for me. For all of us.
I’ve moved to a new city, a new library system with fancier technology and more options. But it still seems a bit strange to use a library card that isn’t faded and warped, the wobbly grade-school cursive signature rubbed to a pale gray from use. I’m working on it, though.
Just in case you ever wonder, in this digital age, whether you have a place anymore, let me say this: you do. Here’s to many more generations roaming the shelves—after all, “The Library Song” could use a couple of new verses.
Here’s a question for you, readers: what do you appreciate about your local library?