|The beautiful atrium in the beautiful Vancouver library...|
Recently, I read this article, “In Circulation: Libraries as Monuments” by Madeline Rose Williams, and it has lingered with me.
Williams asks, "[W]here did you sign your first library card? One of those tiny branches, tucked into a small town alongside the post-office and fire-station with all of three fire-trucks? Do you remember escaping summer’s blanket of heat for the still, air-conditioned cool of the library to pick out your summer reading from the children’s section, counting to make sure you hadn’t gone over the seven- or ten-book limit?”
I think all readers and writers instinctively feel at home in libraries. Unsurprisingly, I have been a lifetime lover of libraries. I do remember signing my first library card at the Grandview Heights Public Library. When I was little, I loved choosing books and videos to bring home with me…my family went almost every week. My middle school and high school was right down the street from this library, and we’d frequently walk over during class to do research. We could sneak upstairs, find some comfy chairs along an aisle, and hide out from the rest of the class.
In each city I’ve lived, in every school where I’ve taught, I get to know the library. The Vancouver Public Library is a gorgeous, many-windowed structure right downtown. It’s so full of light. In LA, I lived right across the street from the Venice-Abbot Kinney Memorial Branch Library…it was salmon pink and seafoam green, a little crumbly, and completely charming. Here in Columbus, we’re proud of earning a high national ranking for many years running (here’s an article about the library system in The Atlantic).
There’s a real sense of both the public and the private in libraries, and I cherish that. The library is a community space full of resources—it is valuable as a meeting place or classroom, as a quiet spot to daydream or work. And I have to say that some of my favorite people are librarians. Often, I’ve met someone I’ve immediately clicked with, and I find out they they work in a library…cool, caring people make these places tick!
So, I’m curious—what are your favorite libraries? What are you looking for when you visit the library?