The earliest memories of libraries I can recall involve summer reading programs. My brother and I would load up on books and then typically finish the entire program in the first week. It wasn’t long before we were “leveling up” and participating in the reading programs for older kids.
My favorite “special” at school was always visiting the school library. I felt like I’d been given a secret decoder ring when they taught us the Dewey decimal system. Being able to check out books myself was a point of great pride. I loved discussing the latest book I was returning with the school librarian (who I must have assumed had read all the books in the library).
In middle school, I felt so mature browsing in the YA section at our local public library (it was like I had graduated). I remember sitting on the floor reading the teasers on the book flaps one after another as I stacked the books that interested me on the floor next to me. My Mom usually capped me at however many I could carry, promising we’d be back.
Junior year of high school, I visited a local university library for a research paper I was writing. I was stunned by its size and energized by the hum of so many people engaged in intellectual pursuits simultaneously.
Throughout college, I utilized the library in new ways – regularly renting study rooms for group projects and using the technology center to access software I didn’t own to complete a course project. My senior year, I lived less than a 2-minute walk from the library. I found it hard to hold myself accountable to study in my room. Therfore, every evening, I lugged my laptop and overstuffed backpack to the library. Befriending the library student staff, I successfully rented a “group” study room almost every evening. Sometimes friends would join me (regardless of whether we had any courses together) and we would work side-by-side in companionable silence. Oftentimes, however, I was a study “group” of one. I practically lived in the library as I spent more waking hours there than in my own residence hall room.
After graduating from college, my partner (Cogsworth) and I moved to the East Coast. New to the Baltimore area, we joined the Howard County Library System. Cogsworth had grown up living across the street from a small town library but was amazed at the resources of a larger library system. We saved money renting new release DVDs from the library (instead of paying to go to the theater) and he even rented video games to play while I read for my graduate studies. I employed the help of competent research librarians as I searched for very specific research articles in back volumes of academic journals that I doubt I would have successfully located on my own. On our city commutes and the 8+ hour drives to and from the Midwest for holidays, Jim Dale’s rich reading transported us to London and Hogwarts (via audiobooks rented from our library).
When we travel, I always look up the libraries near our destination.
We attended a children’s music program at the architecturally amazing Seattle Public Library.
Lumiere and Chip got their very first library cards at the Sanibel Public Library, where we also attended storytime and borrowed 4 library-owned passes to the National Shell Museum (saving us $37 on admission!!)
When we moved back to the Midwest, proximity to a good library system was part of our criteria for a home. While in a perfect world, we would be able to walk to the library, we can’t complain. In the sweet spot between two metropolitan areas in Southwestern Ohio, we are fortunate that:
So which of these libraries do we belong to, you ask? ALL OF THEM. For physical materials, we primarily borrow from our home library system and the standalone library. However, we keep an eye on the programming offerings and access digital materials and resources from all of the libraries. And come summertime, you’d better believe we track for 4 different library summer reading programs (have I mentioned we love free stuff?).
In a typical week, we take 4+ trips to a local library, be it for returning and checking out materials, attending programming, or playing in the children’s areas. Our #libraryadventures are diverse, including fitness, crafting, acting, painting, science, coding, and plenty of storytimes.