This week is National Library Week, but since most libraries around the country are closed (or doing curbside pickup), I thought of an alternate way to celebrate. You, yes you, can pay homage to every reader’s favorite location by creating a temporary library in your home. Here are the simple steps to accomplishing this.
One: Name your library.
Honestly, library names are probably the least creative aspect of their existence. Usually, it’s the town/community followed by “Library,” which is great for clarity, but not for hinting at the epic wonder just beyond their doors. When naming your library, I suggest the following process:
The [Column 1] [Your Last Name or Street Name] [Column 2] [Column 3]
Of Unending Merit
From Ages Past
To Preserve Wisdom for the Future
Portal to New Worlds
With Volumes Untold
Two: Choose a librarian.
The job qualifications are that this person must be patient, organized, and know basically everything, from where to find books for a school report on termites to the title of that one mystery a patron saw last year with yellow on the cover. Memorizing the Dewey Decimal system is optional, but recommended.
Three: More books. More bookshelves.
A pandemic is a great time to stock up on essential reading supplies. (If you’re an ebook reader, we love you and your method is totally valid, but possibly lacking in the “homey library aesthetic” department.) If a member of your household questions your new practice, it’s time to bring out your “There’s No Such Thing As Too Many Books” speech. (I hope you have one. If not, let me know and I’ll let you borrow mine, just know there’s an interpretive dance with lots of frantic gestures at the end of paragraph five.)
Four: Create your own library card.
In fact, make an application process. I always thought it was crazy that the only thing you had to do to get access to the knowledge of the ages was live in a community. Such unfathomable riches should only lie at the end of an arduous quest! My suggested questions for an application include:
- Please describe your treatment plan for the care and keeping of paperbacks, in detail and with footnotes.
- How often, if ever, have you: left a book out in the rain? Colored/written in a book (childhood counts)? Folded a page to mark your place? Lost a library book by leaving it on top of your family’s car at a rest stop in Georgia and driving away, then crying for a half hour afterward until your mom told you it would find another reader? (Maybe that one’s just me.)
- If we tallied up your past overdue fine history, how many minutes/hours/days in Disney World could we buy once it reopens?
Five: Create fun programs.
On the basic Storytime level, I am 100% in favor of reading books out loud, whether you have kids or not. (My friends and I are reading a P. G. Wodehouse novel over Zoom right now. Our British accents are terrible, and the entire experience has been fantastic.) But you can up your game by imitating the library’s craft nights, guest speakers (get everyone in your home to teach the rest of the household a “skill”), writing contests, puppet shows, and rocket launches. (What, your library hasn’t started those yet? I figured it was about time since they do just about everything else…)
Six: Promote reading in every way you can.
Whether you recommend books to friends or donate to a Little Free Library in your neighborhood; if you encourage an author or give kids page-turners for Christmas; whenever you leave a review or join a book club; every act of literary citizenship is something your real library would approve of.
Seven: Be traditional, yet cutting-edge; scheduled, yet flexible; focused, yet versatile; organized, yet welcoming; and generally helpful and accessible to all kinds of people in all stages of life.
You can do that, right? Because libraries sure do!
In all seriousness, as I think about everything libraries are to us, it makes me more excited for the day when they’ll be open again. If you’re a librarian, thank you for all you do to serve our communities! We’ll see you soon.
In the meantime, I’ve got to open up the Vast France Avenue Book Fortress of Unending Merit.
Using our handy tool, what would you name your in-home library?