Here in MA we have what’s called the Minuteman Library Network. It’s a group of 41 libraries that joined together to offer a joint on-line database. I can log into the database, locate a book I want, request it and set which library I want it delivered to. It’s easy and free. I am, a big fan but it has none of the charm I recall from my youth. Going to the library has become just another errand.
On Wednesday, however, I went to the library in the neighboring town for the first time and it was unbelievable. When I walked through the door the smell of books hit me and I felt that sense of excitement for the first time in a long time.
When I was growing up I spent a lot of time in my small town, public library. I still remember the day I got my very first library card. It was peach with black writing, the size of a business card. It had black font. There was an image of the exterior of the library printed on the front along with the name of the library and the hours of operation. I had to “sign” the back. I was too young to write in script so I printed my name on the back. I was so proud of my library card. I also couldn’t wait until the day I had a blue one just like my mom that would enable me to use the adult stacks on the main floor. I longed to walk through that wide doorway and get lost in that maze.
In the meantime, though, I would walk down the stairs to the children’s section in the basement. I loved that room. I would grab piles of books from the shelves and settle into a bean bag chair and flip through, narrowing down my choices. I was only allowed to take 5 at a time! 5 for a whole WEEK! I had to be very picky. I would stay there, hard at work until my mom came and dragged me out. I’m sure my sister was there too but I don’t remember her ever being there with me. I was simply lost in a world of books.
When I’m reading I’m not really there anymore. That used to drive my mom absolutely nuts. She could stand right beside me and talk to me. I would respond appropriately and then not do what she asked. When she came back, frustrated, I wouldn’t even remember what she’d said initially. I still do this to Duhdee sometimes. He doesn’t get mad though, he just rolls his eyes and repeats the conversation. Sooner or later he’ll learn that he should wait until I put the book down and make eye contact before proceeding.
Anyway, when I walked into that library I realized how much I had been missing about going to the library. I’m certainly not going to stop using the on-line catelog but I’m going to set my pick-up location to this new library. It’s not on my way to or from anywhere. I’ll have to make it a special trip like it used to be. I really want to share this with Monkey too, he already has a great love of books though he cannot yet read. One of my great fears is that he won’t be able to learn that, so many of our kids struggle with this. I’m not sure he can handle the atmosphere either. He has no “inside voice” when he’s excited, but I want so badly to see his face when he walks into that room and sees all those BOOKS just waiting for him that I’m going to risk the stares and comments from the other kids and the staff when he’s noisy.
I don’t want to stop pushing him to expand his world out of fear of failure. I would consider that a profound failure on my part as a parent. So I’m trying very hard to be realistic in my expectations in light of his limitations but this one is going to hurt if it fails badly.