An Ode to Libraries

My library is now closed for the next several months for an extensive renovation . People that don’t use libraries are often confused about them. “Aren’t you guys going to be extinct with everything online?” My response is usually, “It’s been a while since you’ve been to a library hasn’t it? Not everything is online and libraries are more than books.” It’s been surreal watching the library I’ve worked in for the last several years gradually empty out as they moved items to other branches.

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It felt like I imagine it must feel working in a store that’s going out of business. Seeing the picture books–my favorite part of the collection–go was a little sad.

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My library was full of life. The new library will be too but it won’t have the old memories.

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Like the crayon-written and misspelled notes left in the toy mailbox. The littles, oh the littles and the stories they would tell. I’ll never forget one little girl who came in all excited one day exclaiming, “My book flew away! It flew away just like a bird!” Apparently, she was in the back seat reading a small paperback picture book with the windows down and it flew out of her hands and right out the window landing in the street behind them! Grandma had to stop the car and go back to retrieve the flying book. There was the 6 year old boy who saw Pinterest  up on my computer and said, “I’m on Pinterest. Look me up.” I did. He had a board dedicated to pictures of rear ends!  One day he informed he was on LinkedIn. He listed his background as, “likes to play and Pokemon”.  This sort of became a thing where every time he came in he’d tell me about the latest social media site he was on. To date he can be found on Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Youtube and Twitter. You don’t meet a kid like that everyday! There’s the little preschooler who’s never met a batch of slime or play dough she didn’t love. The 18-month old who has a lot of suggestions about storytime or at least I think he does. I can’t quite understand what he’s saying yet but there’s a lot of babbling, pointing to something and then looking at me with very serious expressions. There was the girl whose name I’ll never forget because it’s an unusual and hilarious pairing of two nouns. She came in not long ago and asked me if I remembered her and I thought, “Oh honey, you have no idea!” I remember the precocious 5-year-old who would just sit on the floor in the nonfiction section looking at every book we had on science and animals. There were the tweens and teens who’d swap book recommendations with me and have big conversations with about books and how to get through the horror that is the middle school years. There was the  teary-eyed mom who came in on our last day with her kids and a camera around her neck to take pictures of the old place. The mom who tried not to cry and didn’t want to say goodbye. The older woman who came in during our fixtures sale because she “just wanted a souvenir of the place where her daughter learned to love books “. The library was a part of their lives impacting them in huge and meaningful ways. There is no place like a library, a place that’s open and free for everyone of all ages and walks of life, a place to learn, interact, connect or just be. Are libraries dying? Not on your life.

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