I have always felt safe and comfortable in libraries, from the very small local library where I grew up in Merrick NY (which their website tells me is “a little busy at 11AM.” Wonderful!) to my Horrmann Library at Wagner College (where I worked Freshman year filing books – by the Dewey Decimal system!), then the older library in Verona NJ ( where I met with Verona Toastmasters) that was reminiscent of the white clapboard building with creaky wooden floors in the Miller Place Academy Free Library. (where my sisters and I roamed like pint-sized explorers and I discovered Daphne DuMaurier)
Today I read the article “A (visual) History of the American Library” by CityLab visual storyteller Ariel Aberg-Riger with interest. I have been privileged to have access to libraries–good, well-stocked, well-lit, warm in winter, cool in summer–libraries. And yet I know, and Ms. Aberg lays out quite well in detail, stats, and a historical timeline, the bumpy road full-access libraries have traveled to bring free books and the joy of reading ( and more) to everyone in the US. It’s not an unheard of path–first white men, then rich white males, then educated men and some women, then maybe some less wealthy white men and women, then segregated, at last public libraries labeled public accommodations open to everyone, but today many are locally funded which sadly portends inequalities in available funds. But libraries have persevered. And for that I am grateful.
Got a library card?
Both my husband and I have library cards. If I go back in the mental files I think a library card was the first membership card I ever had. I’m a brick and mortar library lover. I love to actually go to the library, wander the aisles, browse magazines, then pile up the books to take home. My husband is an online user. If you have a library card, use it. Take a friend to the library. Make a library date.
Lost your card? Don’t have one? Here’s how to get a card: how to get a card in Pima County
It’s so much more than books
Local libraries in Tucson host writing groups, Toastmasters, tutors, chess clubs, dance workshops, Knitting for a Cause, travel lectures, storytelling for children of all ages, aging resources, tax classes, computer classes. Can’t find that special book on mind mapping? They’ll find it. Need a Big Book for your storytelling event? The children’s librarian’s got it. They gladly take and post my flyers for community events. In my mind, it’s a hub for gathering people together, so they can then spread their “wings” and fly.
Sure, we can check out books at the library. But what else is doing at your library?
Ethel Lee-Miller blogs regularly about people, the power of words, and the writing life. She is the author of Thinking of Miller Place, and Seedlings, Stories of Relationships. She also enjoys sharing stories at Odyssey Storytelling, Tucson Tellers of Tales, and just about anywhere there’s a mic.