By Zadra Rose Ibañez
“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside a dog, it’s too dark to read.” – Groucho Marx
Summer, Tuesday afternoon, 3pm. You find me sitting at a beautiful wooden table with the sunlight streaming in through the window panes, perfectly spotlighting my notebook and pen. I write until the sun climbs off the table and only fluorescent light illuminates my writing.
I am at the library, and I am happy. Comfortable, calm, at peace. I feel powerful: full of potential and opportunity.
When I was little, my mother would take me to the library each week to get my fill of reading materials. The children’s section was to the left of the entrance and the grown-up section was to the right. My mom allowed me to go off to the kids’ books on my own – giving me autonomy in a safe space. I remember reading Nancy Drew and the Secret of the Old Clock to my mom at bedtime, a chapter a night.
Sometimes the library would hold movie screenings in the auditorium. We would wait until the doors opened and then the kids would be allowed to sit in the front without their parents – such freedom! They showed Bambi – I didn’t like that because it was scary. They showed the Fox and the Hound and Pinocchio; I liked Jiminy Cricket and Gepetto.
I loved books by authors like Jack Prelutsky, Richard Scary, Madeline L. Engle…those early reads shaped my future interest in poetry, in fantasy, and in adventure.
As a teenager, one of my favorite places was the periodicals section. Wandering through the stacks amid the smell of pulp and newsprint, I would pull a random magazine off the shelf – usually Scientific American or Popular Mechanics, sometimes the Los Angeles Yellow Pages (we didn’t live in California). I would flip to an article and learn something (anything!) new. Sometimes, I would load microfiche or microfilm just to hear the machine “whirr” or marvel at the way a tiny image in a cell can be magnified to readable print.
Now that I’m older, I still frequent my local library. I’m spoiled now; I live in a metropolitan area where I can find a library 5 miles in any direction. I still marvel at the availability of free literature, non-fiction, audiobooks, CDs, and movies. Recently, 3M and Overdrive have made audio books and Kindle editions available remotely.
I appreciate the reading rooms, the law libraries, the Friends of the Bookstore sales where books are 50 cents. Even now, years later, I return to the children’s section occasionally to borrow a new YA or JUV book by authors such as Paladini, Stroud, Riordan, Colfer, Sage and old favorites like Keene and Dicamillo.
The library is a gift to an inquisitive mind, and I am grateful that in today’s world of electronic and digital media our libraries are still places where we can feel at home, pass the time, and learn something new.
Do you and your kids enjoy the library? Please share in the comment section below.