Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Valuing a library card

The public library is responsible for furthering my love of reading as a young child.

The first identity card of significance in my life was one that permitted me entrance into a new world where I could take out two books at a time respecting due dates. I must have been in first grade, and the library was within a short walking distance from my house. I kept the card in my wallet proudly, and honored my obligations not to damage or loose a book. The staff got to know me by name, and I felt welcome exploring the different rooms housing the largest collection of books I had ever seen anywhere.

In fact, I remember worrying so much about loosing my library privileges that I would return books two or three days ahead of time just in case the librarian would overlook them on the cart. I didn't want any blemishes on my clean record. Besides, the two cent fine per day would come from my allowance, and I had better uses for my money.

Once in eighth grade I set a summer reading goal and I began in the stacks at the beginning of the alphabet. It is right there in the "A's" that I made friends for life with Meg, Beth and Jo, and I devoured Louisa May Alcott over and over. I was living in their Concord home for the entire summer and following their adventures. The following summer I decided I had better go forward, and I was delighted to find great classic authors in Jane Austin, Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy.

Every time I moved as an adult, one of the first things that I would do was get a library card. Then I  officially belonged to the community.