Booking Through Thursday – Library Memories

This week Booking Through Thursday asks:

Whether you usually read off of your own book pile or from the library shelves NOW, chances are you started off with trips to the library. (There’s no way my parents could otherwise have kept up with my book habit when I was 10.) So … What is your earliest memory of a library? Who took you? Do you have you any funny/odd memories of the library?

“You have to be very quiet when we get inside,” my mother cautioned me, leading me toward the old, stone fronted building.

She needn’t have worried.  What I saw when I stepped through those glass doors was so completely awe inspiring that my little four year old self was struck mute and motionless.

“Come on,” my mother whispered, taking me by the hand.  “Let’s look at the books.”

I wandered beside her, taking in every aspect of the humongous shelves filled with books of all shapes and sizes.  And the smell – the lovely, damp scent of ink and paper and glue, in various stages of old and newness – was so pungent that I think a trace of it remains in my nostrils even now, nearly 50 years later.

Leading me into the children’s department, with shelves shrunken to the perfect height for me to reach them, my mother started pulling books from the stacks, offering them to me for my approval.

“This looks good, doesn’t it?” she would say.  “Or how about this one?”

Overwhelmed, I gazed at her.  “Are these all free?” I asked.

She smiled.  “Yes, sort of,” she answered.  “We can pick some out to take home for a while, then bring them back and get some more.”

“Any of them?”  This was just too good to be true.

“Any of them you like,” she answered, adding another one to the already listing pile in my short arms.

Going to the library was like being given the key to a kingdom – the entry to a world of pictures and words and stories about people all over the world. 

I loved it then – and I love it still.

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11 thoughts on “Booking Through Thursday – Library Memories

  1. That was lovely. I can’t remember my first library moment; my mother probably took me before I could do more than chew on board books. But I still do feel this awe sometimes when entering new libraries (or excellent bookstores, for that matter).

  2. Lovely reflection on the libraries of childhood. Nothing quite so special, in my mind. I think of libraries as magical castles in the air at the end of the rainbow, and I know where the secret entrance is! I used a variety of libraries as a child, and I remember each one of them. Thanks for reminding me, Becca.

  3. This is so lovely and you captured the moments so many of us (certainly I) felt. Our library used to be in a very big, old building — one with many steps to climb and tall, thick columns. It instilled quiet just by its appearance! Somewhat later, I recall riding my bike to the library where I took out all the Misty of Chincoteague books and “Sal Fisher, Girl Scout.” Good times…

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