I love libraries. Of course I love bookstores too, but in libraries everything is free. You can browse all day if you want. You can relax and revel in being in the company of kindred souls.
I was introduced to the library at an early age. My second grade class was escorted across the street to the imposing Carnegie Library. Around on the right side was a half-flight of stairs leading down into the children's section. We were then seated in a half circle around a tiny woman named Miss Mole (or so it sounded to me) who read us a story book. The book was about a little boy who ate so much, he turned into a balloon and floated away. This concept was confusing and a little frightening but I was enthralled--there were lots and lots of other books in the library with other stories. We were each issued our very own library card so we could come back and check out books again.
The adult section was up those stairs and you were not allowed to check books out of the adult section until you turned thirteen. It therefore became a "rite of passage" to ascend the stairs and be issued your adult library card.
Oh the wonderful things that were to be found in the upstairs library! There were books on archaeology and foreign countries, murder mysteries and science fiction, biographies and even humor! I loved reading so much, I would smuggle books upstairs and read far into the night.
Of course, that old library no longer exists. It was built in an era when nobody gave a thought to providing access to the elderly or handicapped. It also became far too small for a growing population and too expensive to maintain. I'm sure that was the fate of many Carnegie libraries around the country.
But how wonderful that we had those treasures while we did!
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