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  • Writer's pictureJane Leder

The Library & Me (& You)

I must have been three maybe four when my mother took me to the McGregor Library for the first time. The smell of new books reminded me of birthday presents; the long, neat rows of books gave me a secure sense of order with everything in its place. There was a special room just for little people like me where a group of us sat in a circle on the floor and listened to a woman bring a story to life. I loved the McGregor Library even more than I loved the Vernor's Ginger Ale factory not too far down the street.

I've been thinking about my love of libraries while writing a short story. The main character is an avid reader who eventually volunteers three times a week at her local library. Writing about her encourages me to consider my own connection with libraries and why, even now with search engines to take the place of encyclopedias, scanners to take the place of mimeograph machines, spell checks to take the place of spelling books, I still find a certain peace, quiet, and familiarity at the library that I can never find while working from home.

I remember how excited and proud I was when I was old enough to get my very own library card. I picked out a pile of books, balanced them precariously, laid them on the check-out counter, and presented my card. Of course, the older I got, the more my taste in books changed. But even before I had that precious card, I'd accompany my mother to the library, dash to the children's room, run my fingers over the bookbinders until I found just the right titles. I loved The Bobbsey Twins and wished that I had a twin.

I probably read all sixty of the Dr. Seuss books. (I'm damn glad that I'm not in one of the school districts that is banning or attempting to ban everything Dr. Seuss whom these anti-race theory folks consider a racist. [Give me a break! My blood starts to boil just thinking about this!]

And I moved right along to Nancy Drew mysteries, counterpart to the Hardy Boys series. I don't think I knew enough then to understand the importance of having a mystery series featuring a young girl detective, but I know that I was excited to see a reflection of myself or a reflection of someone I could imagine to be.

I've often wondered who spent days, weeks, months typing the information about a book on the small cards in the card catalog: the author, the title, the subject, publication date, call number, even information about illustrations. OMG! I can't imagine using a computer. Never mind a manual typewriter. I hope these dedicated typists were well compensated for their Herculean effort and dedication.

Every week, I read an email from my local library. It along with libraries across the country has fought to stay afloat during the pandemic. Most programs are either virtual or outdoors. With winter gathering steam, chances of outdoor programs in this neck of the woods are on their last legs until next spring.

The Digital Library is open 24/7 for eBooks and eAudiobooks, Streaming Movies and TV, and eMagazines. Librarians are on call to help start a digital library. And no matter in what part of the country you live in, libraries need financial help. There are constant pleas to donate.

So, why don't we all find out what we can do to help keep our libraries alive and well? I'm going to make a donation right now.


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