Posted tagged ‘librarians’

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”

March 8, 2016

We have actually hit 50˚ today because there is no wind. The day is bright and the sky is clear of any clouds. I just got back from my library board meeting so I’m done for the day. My outside clothes are going to be replaced by my inside comfy clothes. I brought home three books from the library, and I have yet to read the morning papers. I’m thinking turning pages might just be my only exercise for the day.

Libraries have always been favorite places for me. I used to go at least once a week when I was a kid. The librarian probably didn’t think I was reading all the books because I returned them so quickly. You’d think librarians of all people would understand how books capture you and how difficult it is to put a good book down. I’d sometimes read a book in one day. I’d even read during class by hiding my book inside a textbook. It had to be a big textbook. The best was always geography with history a close second. Not once did I get caught. I’d turned the text book pages to make it all look real. I was adept at concealment.

When I was in Ghana, I read constantly and swear I read most of the books in the Bolga library. We had no radio, no TV and terrible movies shown once in a while in town at the Hotel d’Bull, the hot spot of Bolga back then. Preparing to teach the next day never took long and neither did correcting so with all this time to fill I read. Trips anywhere took what seemed forever so I learned to read while I was on the bus. It used to make me dizzy and sick when I was younger, but I got used to reading on the road in Ghana. Anytime I had a volunteer stay with me, book swapping was part of the visit. We all carried books. When I was in Accra, I’d go to Legon to the main campus of the University of Ghana. It had a book store. I always spent a good bit of money there. Books were almost as important to us as food and water. I don’t think that’s changed.

“In my world there would be as many public libraries as there are Starbucks.”

June 9, 2015

Dreary is the perfect adjective to describe today. A sunless sky and a gusty wind make it chilly so long sleeves are the dress of the day. Intermittent showers are predicted. I won’t complain. We still need rain.

Earlier I had my monthly library board meeting which never takes more than an hour. We are an amiable group usually voting yes to any requests. Two members are ninety and one other is in her eighties. I always feel young.

When I was a kid, talking in the library was frowned upon. The librarian would shush us and put her finger to her lips to tell us to be quiet. We whispered but never softly enough. Even in the children’s section the librarian created a sense of foreboding. I never asked her for anything, and she never volunteered. Her circulation desk was round which I figured was the rule as every circulation desk I ever saw was round: hence, the name I suppose. The desk was across from the door and there the librarian sat to check books in and out. Those were the days of hand held stamps and book cards on which you wrote your name. I remember watching her carefully place the stamp in the due date box on the slip at the back of the book. She wanted to make sure the date was straight and in the middle of the small box. That librarian looked like she needed the stamp straight. Everything about her was perfect from the bun in her hair to the thick nylons and the black, laced shoes. The only words she ever spoke to me were, “Did you find what you wanted?” I mumbled yes every time but wondered what a no would have brought.

Libraries today are places where you feel welcome and where you can even talk without a single shush in your direction. I haven’t seen a bun on any librarian in years. The librarian in my library doesn’t wear a flowered dress or clunky black heels. She dresses for comfort because that’s the feeling she engenders in her library. She offers help and suggestions. Today I dropped off three books and picked up three more.

I have always loved libraries even when I got shushed.

“Walking the stacks in a library, dragging your fingers across the spines — it’s hard not to feel the presence of sleeping spirits.”

June 20, 2014

The morning is cool and breezy. I slept in a bit later than usual as did Fern and Gracie, but for some reason I have been busy already. I made my bed first thing then watered the vegetable garden and the deck plants, filled the bird feeder, put the dog blankets and pillow in the washing machine and hauled up from the cellar bags of cans for recycling. It is as if I am Popeye after eating the can of spinach.

Today I had nothing planned, but I’ll take in the cans and see how much I make, pick up a few things at the grocery store, buy canned dog food and maybe take a ride to nowhere. I haven’t done that in a long while.

When I was young, I loved just sitting and reading. The library was a weekly stop for me. The librarian, on the kids’ side, was the epitome of librarians with her bun hairdo, her old lady silky looking dress with buttons and her clunky tie shoes. She was a husher who would put her finger across her lips to remind whoever was talking to be quiet. Libraries back then were like churches. You sat quietly in your seat or you walked, almost on tip toes, from bookcase to bookcase. If you spoke, it was always in whispers. Even the librarian whispered. I’d find my books and leave as quickly as I could. Nobody hung out at the library. Sometimes on the walk home I’d stop and sit on one of the benches near the town hall and read a bit. The benches were shaded and there was usually a bit of a breeze and I couldn’t wait to start a new book. I’d read a few chapters then walk the rest of the way home. The next week I’d do it all over again.

My little town library is a hubbub of activity. There are speakers on some Thursdays, the librarian has no bun, wears pants and talks aloud to all her patrons. The library is a welcoming place. The kids’ section is filled with wonderful books, stuffed animal book characters and kid-sized tables and chairs. In the summer there are story hours and not a single kid is ever hushed. I can always count on a perfect recommendation for a book from the librarian, and I don’t have to speak in whispers.

Libraries have a lot of competition from e-books. I buy them too, but I still love visiting my library. There is something comforting about being surrounded by all those books. I can walk up and down the aisles, pull out a book, read the jacket and then decided whether or not I want to read it. I always end up with three or four books. I save the e-books for when I travel. I just can’t curl up with a good book on my iPad.


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