Last week I visited two libraries: that of my former elementary school, and the public one downtown.  In the first, I watched kids almost too excited for words compete in Battle of the Books.  It warmed my heart to see them, at the end of the school year, answering questions about what they’d read.  After it was over, they lapped up next year’s list like thirsty puppies.  No question what they’ll be doing this summer.


Image result for children's library shelves


In the second library, much larger than the first, I walked past the computers to the stacks.  Although I think search programs are fine and great timesavers for locating material, I’d still rather do my own browsing.  On some occasions, instead of looking for a specific book, or the latest book, it’s better to let the library tell you what it’s got.  Nonfiction, usually biography, draws me like a magnet, so I wandered around it for awhile.  Around the corner where some poetry anthologies were waiting, I began to read titles.  I chose one published in 1936 and took it back to a long table to read.

I forget from time to time how much I like to sit and read in the library.




When I was in college, I would climb up a few flights of stairs in the library and look at the cookbooks.  There was one I remember whose author raved about her mother-in-law’s home cooking, and tried to relay some of her techniques.



I’ve always enjoyed picking up the smooth, thin books in the children’s department.  It is one of my earliest memories, and I tried to pass it on to our children, who are passing it to our grandchildren.  It is no secret how proud we are that one of our daughters is a kindergarten teacher, and the other a librarian.  Both are fanning the love-flame of books for others.

One hot summer when they were young, the theme of the elementary reading program at the public library was  “Camping Out With Books.”  We staked up our old canvas tent and the girls would read out there on folding chairs and sleeping bags.  When it rained, a few of the books were ruined.  We drove into town to pay for them (and check out more), and the librarian smiled and said, “You really were camping out with books, weren’t you!”



Of late, a strategy for teachers is to categorize their classroom books by genre in bins.   The covers are in plain sight, which entice kids to rifle through and take them back to their desks to read.  I second any arrangement that will hook a child to a book.



If you have a young person around, or if a young person has you around, encourage him to read.  Better yet, set an example by reading yourself.  Get lost in a book.  The library is a fantastic place in which to browse.

Do you have memories of a special library?


4 Replies to “Unshelved”

  1. When I was a kid, we lived four miles west of a little, bitty town. There was no library, but a bookmobile came once a week from a bigger town close by. I loved the anticipation of the arrival of the book mobile. I rode my bike into town and spent a long time browsing the shelves. It was a magical world, a small one, to be sure, but magical all the same. I grew up reading everything I could get my hands on. Now I am a grandma of two grandsons who are readers. I couldn’t be more proud of them!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved to visit the library in my youth. I remember going to the main library in the town and sitting there for hours just browsing and reading the books. A memory that brings greater pleasure to me is of my visits to the library with my daughter. They began when she was just 18months old and became a weekly outing for us. Needless to say she is now an avid reader too, at 24! As a librarian in a primary school I often arrange for every class in the school to visit our local library; I can’t believe some of the older children don’t even know such a valuable free resource is there!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing the memory! I took my children to the preschool story hour at our local public library when they were little, and they’ve both loved libraries ever since. My fifth grade students took a field trip to that library each year, and it was always a highlight. Librarians are such great people!

      Liked by 2 people

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