If you’ve ever read a book, odds are you’ve stepped foot into a library. The smell of books and shelves full of exciting new worlds are magical. You can get a ton of books with just a swipe of a card and not clutter up your tiny apartment with them — again, magical!
When I was younger, I read like my life depended on it. Saturday afternoon? Sure, my sister and I would play outside, but odds were when it was time for dinner we were reading on our deck. When you have two kids who read books as fast as they eat, you turn to options outside of bookstores. For a few years we went to the tiny library in our small town of Signal Mountain, Tennessee. It was great, but we tore through the children’s section like the Flash. Our mom decided to get us library cards for the Chattanooga Library, a place which still holds magical memories for me to this day.
I remember walking into the library carrying my little pink bag with a dancing teddy bear on it, ready to fill it up with as many books as possible. We could be there for hours, picking out books, reading a few, and even playing games on the early 2000’s computers. It was like a wonderland for baby Emily. Sis and I would sit in a yellow chair among the books and go through our pickings, narrowing down which ones we could take home with us. The library had a rule of 20 books each, which we usually hit every time. The great thing about having a sister who reads as much as you is that we’d leave each time with 40 books to read for a few months. I felt like Matilda every time we walked past the book fountain outside and through the library’s doors. Other than swimming, visiting the library was my favorite thing to do.
Now as a 24-year-old, the library holds many different meanings. It’s still a magical place to get books, but it’s also where I studied for finals and made friends in college. My definition of a library as an adult is not just a place for books; it’s a place where the community comes together and learns. Every time I visit my local library, it feels like a tiny ecosystem. The hardworking staff, the clubs meeting, the students studying for finals. There’s a buzz that’s both calming and electric, motivating me to sit down and read or be productive.
If you haven’t been to your local library in a while, or ever, consider carving out an hour one Saturday afternoon and make the trip. You never know what kind of magic you’ll find in between the shelves. There might be a new world waiting for you to explore, or history waiting to be told. While you’re there, consider talking to a librarian about supporting your local library. At the end of the day, it’s up to us to keep our happy places happy. Anything we can do to help a future generation discover the joys of a land of books is a step in the right direction.