I was incredibly blessed to have grown up in a town that had a fantastic public library. I remember when we moved to Venice, Florida: I was going into 4th grade and The Pagemaster had come out the Thanksgiving before. We drove past the library for the first time on our way to check out the school that summer. My faced was plastered against the back window as I drooled. "Its just like the library from The Pagemaster!" I thought. Of course, looking at it now, the Venice public library doesn't physically look like the one in the movie, but, to my 10-year-old eyes and heart, it might as well have been.
I vowed right then and there to read every single book on the shelves. And, boy, did I try! Once school began, I would take the long way home just so I could ride my bike past its large windows. Yeah, I was that kind of kid. Books were my refuge.
During the summer, the children's wing had the best programs and my sister and I would attend most afternoons.I would check out three or four books every week and finish them by the following Monday. If I only had time to read like that now! I am extremely grateful for the children's librarians that were always so helpful and patient with me and who worked so diligently on the summer programs and the general upkeep of the children's wing.
Fast forward 18 years and now I am married with a small child of my own. We've lived in a few cities since Venice, and all of their libraries have not lived up to my childhood standard--until now. We live in Provo, UT and I finally feel that I have found a place with the same amount of wonder and magic as my childhood library. The librarians are fantastic, the children's wing is amazing and they even have a great summer program for the kids.
What's even greater, however, about the Provo public library is their Authorlink programs. I do not know if it is because we have so many local authors, but the library does a fantastic job of bringing in some great authors and illustrators. Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to hear Brandon Mull and Lisa McMann speak. I've also heard Scott Westerfeld and Brandon Sanderson. Next week, they are hosting Lois Lowry! I mean, come on--does it get any better than Lois Lowry? Later in the month, they will host the Teen Book Fest where there will be a few more authors and there's always the children's book fest where children's authors and illustrators come to talk to the kids.
I guess the whole point of this library-rambling is to point out how influential a public library can be. Books carry so much power to the reader. But sometimes families cannot afford to buy their kids every book that comes on the market. Or maybe there are kids that need a safe place to go and explore during the summer. In steps the mighty library! Libraries can become so much more than a building full of metal shelves and books. They are places where children and adults alike can be swept away to wonderful places. Libraries can be where kids learn to love reading and learning. They can be a a refuge from more than just the summer heat.
For me, libraries are where magic and reality meet, mingle and share a cup of tea. And for that I am grateful.