On Wednesdays, while I wait for my kids to get out of their judo lessons, I decided it would be easier and more economical to stop at the public library instead of going all the way home. I mean, there’s internet access. And a decent children’s department with toys and little bean-bag chairs and enough books to keep my kids occupied in between driving around (with the added bonus that they keep their shoes on and their coats close and can no longer trash the house in the 30 minutes we’re home between lessons). In fact, all this place really needs is a coffee machine and it would make a great second residence.
Maybe it’s the smell of these musty books (don’t you love that smell?), or the Halloween weather (my library used to host an annual haunted house) but I find myself thinking about the little town public library where I grew up.
Unlike a lot of the bigger, more modern libraries in the surrounding districts, Aldrich Public Library first opened its doors in 1896 and, while the main Victorian-style building has undergone various paint-jobs and renovations, the truth is it hasn’t changed much in the last 116 years.
I loved this library. The structure was so old, with sharp angles and shadowy corners and that lovely smell of old books. In the summer, I’d participate in all the reading contests; devouring whole series of The Babysitter’s Club, Sweet Valley High, and RL Stine’s Goosebumps.
And when I was thirteen-years-old, I began working there (for free). I shelved books, organized the catalogue and prepped newly received books for service for about two years until I was old enough for a real ‘paying’ job and started working at our local video store.
Throughout all that time, the place totally gave me the creeps. And I totally LOVED it. The best part of this creepy old library was the creepy old librarian. Actually, she wasn’t that old, if memory serves. But she was petite and soft-spoken, and had that haunted, never see the sun or change with the times look (long, dark 60’s style hair, powdery pale skin)- like she had just stepped out of a Jane Austin novel and would be totally out of place outside the late 19th century library dwelling.
So tell me peeps, what do you love best about your local library? Is it different from the library of your childhood? Do you get to spend any time there? And for all my East Coast friends and followers, I hope you stay warm and safe during the monster storm ahead.