After work yesterday I spent a good half hour or so among the books. Library… synonym for sanctuary, at least in my personal thesaurus. As I hadn’t been to our library here in Appleton for more than five minutes in the last several months, the visit yesterday had me thinking about the hours I’ve spent in libraries in the course my twenty-nine years. Countless, really.
In junior high and high school, my sister and I walked after school to the tiny public library in our town. Two blocks from the school (those two blocks being the length of our ‘downtown’), it was a squat, square building filled with shelves of delight. Jessica and I spent numerous afternoons there. Starting our homework, naturally, but more importantly, searching the stacks. That library is where we got hold of every single Sweet Valley High, Babysitter’s Club, Nancy Drew, and Ramona book ever written. It’s where we discovered Gilbert Morris, Lori Wick and Janette Oke. Heck, it’s even where we discovered the nonsensical fun of People magazine. And it’s where I first opened the pages of Pride & Prejudice. I can still picture that copy in my mind: large, with a dark green hard cover and drawn illustrations interspersed among the chapters.
Occasionally we’d stop at the larger library in the relatively larger town nearby (Menominee). I never knew my way around this two story stone building that well and each visit felt like an exploration. This one had wide bow windows overlookng the marina and Lake Michigan and thus I learned how remarkably well water views and reading go together.
I never liked the library at Grand Valley State. It was unwelcoming and hard. When I transferred to Franciscan though, I loved my library once again. Softer lighting, comfortable chairs, beautiful volumes…. A friend secured me a part time position as a clerk and I spent a few quiet hours behind the counter and returning books to their proper homes. I sporadically wondered how happy I’d be as a librarian.
The Appleton public library is unremarkable but adequate. I don’t spend a lot of time there as it doesn’t provide the cozy security I associate with the libraries I’ve loved. Nevertheless, the occasional visit – for longer than five minutes to pick something up that I have on hold – remains a delight to me. I will always feel at home among the books.