I was stuck without a way to write this week. No email or books or laptop, just a few hours between two events and not enough time to go home. I found myself searching for a way to be productive even without any resources and for the thousandth time in my life, the local library came to my assistance.
I borrowed one of their terminals, got my daily word count, and had enough time to find a book and check out the third season of Doctor Who on DVD. As I sat at the Brighton Library and looked out the window at their immaculate landscaping, a sense of peace came over me. It was like the library was watching out for me and providing for me like a friend, and it wasn’t the first time.
I remember many things in elementary school did not live up to my expectations. Recess was ok, but you still had to avoid getting beat up and cussed out by the big kids or ostracized by the cool kids. I was excited when they took us on a trip to the laboratory. Thinking it would be like the mad scientist labs in the movies, but was sorely disappointed by the lavatory, which in my vernacular was just a stinky bathroom.
The only thing that truly made my young jaw drop was the library. The shelves were huge, and the room seemed to go on forever with more books then I had ever seen in my life. I was angry that we were limited to two books and could only pick from certain sections, but the visit was thrilling and enflamed a lifelong love affair with libraries.
I found the local library soon after and during the long summer months, before the days of internet and twenty-four hour television with DVRs and DVDs, books provided an escape from the monotonous day to day, a release valve for the imagination, and a fortress from the 100 degree heat.
I got so upset when my mom didn’t have time to drive me that I walked the five miles from my house to the library on a busy highway, not bothering to tell her where I was going. I think I may have been 11 years old. I really didn’t know how I was going to get back with all my books, and I didn’t care. Arriving at the building was like seeing an oasis; I spent the next three hours in Nirvana. (Mom figured out where I was and picked me up btw).
Later when I had kids of my own and no money to entertain them, I took them to the Howell Library to play computer games, pick up books, and borrow VHS tapes. When they were teens, they joined the writing club and participated in carnival style events and movie nights. For a single mom, the library was an invaluable haven.
Later, I discovered my first in-person writer’s group through a library and met most of my best friends in those groups.
As the community moves into a new generation of ebooks, I find again the library is on the cutting edge with apps that allow virtual lending. Some libraries will even lend an e-reader to patrons for in house use.
Libraries serve as meeting places, resources for job searches, information, and research. They have proven time and again to be a lighthouse in a dark and choppy sea of life that I can depend on to light the way into a safe harbor of knowledge.
One of my favorite libraries, the Brighton District Library is currently seeking a millage and I encourage you, if you live in the area, to vote yes to supporting this fine institution, so that more people can have the same joy, comfort, and happiness that I have experienced over the last forty years.
I would not be the educated, informed, entertained, and happy person I am today without the support of libraries.
Have libraries affected your life in any meaningful way? Leave a note in the comments or just stop in and say hi!