It all started with puppets. Yes, puppets. I am creeped out by clowns and dolls, but not puppets. When I was in the third grade my parents took my sisters and I to go see a puppet production of Beauty And The Beast at the library. At the end of the show was a brief spiel on library cards. I knew I HAD to get one, and so my parents promised me I could get one the very next day, because they are so on-board with the word free. I can remember the rush of anticipation, but also gravity as I signed my name – with newly learned cursive on the white 4 County Library system card. Gravity because now I had the responsibility of taking books back on time so as to not incur an overdue fee.
I will straight up say without libraries I would not be the reader that I am today. I do not come from money at all. I was the kid growing up who wore hand-me-downs and clothes from Salvation Army. It’s really hard for me to admit that, since I’ve changed so much from then, economically, and well, it’s hard to say Hi I come from poverty or hi I lived at the poverty line. My parents didn’t have the money to purchase a new book every time I wanted one. Enter libraries. Through the library, I was able to keep up with an expensive reading habit. Sidebar: This is also why I gladly pay overdue fines now without complaining – it’s a small way to give back even though having late books is lame.
My mom would take my sisters and I once a week. She would head on over to the romance racks (they rotated), and we would go to the children’s section. Through the library I became acquainted with Phylis Reynolds Naylor and Shiloh, Betsey Byars, Brian Jacques and the mice of Redwall, Beverly Cleary and Ramona, Cynthia Voight and the Tillermans, Ann M. Martin and her Babysitters Club, Francine Pascal and Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield. I never went to Disneyworld as a kid or really anywhere for vacation but I experienced a whole new world every night thanks to the library.
I learned how to use the internet because of the library. I remember going to the library after school got out, in my pre-teen years, and browsing the internet with friends from school. We spent a lot of time on Sailor Moon websites, and would eventually put on a short play as Sailor Moon characters to promote the manga section of the library (I give back from time to time).
The library was also how I obtained some of my first for-keeps books. They have this massive sale several times a year where you can buy a bag of books
for a dollar. I remember getting excited over the Bag Of Books Saturdays. My mom would give each of us kids a dollar, and we would find a huge bag and obviously stuff it to the brim. I mean, my parents knew books were important, they just didn’t have the means. When opportunities like those sales came knocking, you open the door.
I would hate to see what my life would be like without the library. Would I have ended up knocked up? Would I have gone onto college? Would I have had the motivation to take harder classes? I can’t say for sure, but I know I absolutely would not be the woman I am today without a simple puppet show at the library.
What about you? What impact has the library had on your life? Do you remember getting your first library card?