I saw a tumblr post (linked here) saying that this is national library week and recommending bloggers to write blog posts to this effect. I decided to do exactly that because I have a lot to say about the local library of my childhood.
I am one of six kids and we were raised to be rather independent. This meant that summers consisted primarily of us roaming our neighborhood…going to the river that cuts through the middle of the city, walking to the gas station to buy stuff from the dime-candy baskets, walking to the McDonalds for the sole purpose of collecting our sundry quarters and dollars in order to acquire the Monopoly game stickers that were on the fries and drinks. (Man, kids spend their money on the silliest things). There was a local public pool that was sometimes open and…
There was the Library. I did not hold this place in quite the reverence that I should I have, but I sure went there a lot. Walked there. Ran there. Biked there.
It was a small library. A more methodical kid than I could have read the place through by the time they graduated from high school. I was haphazard. I would stack my arms high with all kinds of random books, scarcely making determinations between genre.
One time I went, obsessed with researching Native American culture because I was fascinated by/curious about that ancestry on my mom’s side, which (to this day) we know rather little about. I came home with books about Wilma Mankiller and Apache craftsmanship, most of which I scarcely touched in the allotted two weeks.
There was also a shelf that I think would nowadays be dubbed the “YA shelf” but that was before YA was the thing it is now, so its contents were rather different. Books like “Wings of a Falcon” and “Jackaroo” by Cynthia Voigt. Those are the ones I remember most.
I was a much more adventurous reader then. I didn’t worry or wonder about whether I would like a book, or scour goodreads reviews “just to check”. I just grabbed things off the shelves and read them. My mom was generally aware of the sorts of things we brought home, but I can’t remember her ever saying “No! You can’t read that”…I do remember her being exasperated when all my brothers would bring home from the library was piles of Goosebumps and Animorphs. I think it was the Goosebumps that irritated her.
When Harry Potter started becoming a thing, I believe we read the first three with library copies shared between us. There were quite a few people I knew at the time who were not allowed to read Harry Potter “because of witches.” My mom simply picked them up after us and read them too, then said “Yeah, these are good, clean fun. Carry on.”
And so we did, usually sharing 1 or 2 copies between the six of us which was…challenging.
We would sift through each other’s stacks. We would find an author we loved and then scour the library for more of them, or go to the downtown library (a mansion by comparison) and find more.
I have my mom to thank for my love of reading, both my parents to thank for the independence and adventurousness in doing so, and our old local library for being such a childhood joy!