Today is National Libraries Day in the UK. I’m sure you noticed all the #lovelibraries and #NLD13 talk on Twitter – everyone expressing the positives of what libraries means to them.
My story with libraries, like so many others, is very personal. Like so many people, we couldn’t afford books growing up. I remember several independent book shops that used to be very welcoming but always had an air of elitism about them (looking back, it was my prejudice and stereotyping). Maybe it’s because the owners always had cats and typical arm chairs that were associated with ‘rich’ people.
My first library card was from Fallsington Library. To this day, I can still smell that wonderful book smell and hear the creaking floors as you walked on the hardwood floors. When you entered, there was always a smile to the right where the desk was located. Directly in front was my nemesis … The Card Catalog. At Fallsington Library I always had to pretend I couldn’t find the right card so the librarian would help me find the card and take me directly to the book on the shelf.
When I was 7, my family moved ALL the way to Morrisville (a mile or so away) where we were signed up for the library almost immediately. Morrisville Library had a huge impact on my life in more ways than even I recognized until I became an adult.
I lived in Pennsylvania, same state as Andy Warhol. In school, which at the time was a Catholic school that was still run with nuns, we were to learn of Andy Warhol as an artist. However, I felt Sister wasn’t sharing the whole picture so I went to the library, on my own, to research him myself (after the librarian helped with with the card catalog). This is when I learned he was gasp Gay.
Although I was brought up Roman Catholic, I was also brought up that everyone was equal regardless of color, gender, creed, etc. Apparently, my catholic school didn’t get my mom’s memo.
I went back to school and asked the nun why we weren’t learning about Andy Warhol the person that included his boyfriends.
Did I mention I was about 9 years old?
Didn’t go over well but always remembered the POWER I had knowing I had FREE ACCESS to knowledge that wasn’t controlled.
Throughout the years, Morrisville Library was the source of many hours of learning, hanging out with friends, attending events in the basement and more.
When I became an adult, I made the brave move … back to Fallsington. Once again, I was a member of the Fallingston Library and this time I became a Friend of the Library volunteering to help them get my enemy, their card catalog, online before moving to the UK.
I’m now a proud member of the Friends of Bridgnorth Library in Shropshire. We are a very small but powerful group that work to bridge the gap between community and libraries.
Recently we had the honor of hosting international best-selling author Peter James for the adults and the Marvellous Children’s Author Philip (The Beard) Ardagh come and talk to the kids in primary school and home educated kids.
Many who attended these events might not have ever known the wonderful resources available on their door step at our library. Every chance we get, we try to remind people that we can not take advantage that this resource is always going to be here – we must use it before we lose it!
So on this National Libraries Day – I want to send a huge thank you to all the libraries, volunteers, Friends of groups and everyone else that work tiredlessly to ensure this resource is available for our next generation.