Ever since last November, the clock has been ticking toward the closing of my library.
Now, I know that some believe that libraries have outlived their usefulness, what with this being the digital age, with electronic books being all the rage, and with the internet providing all the information we could need (and more!) in the blink of an eye. Who even knows the Dewey Decimal System anymore???
But I'm old-school. One of my girls will ask, "Mom, where can I find a book on drawing cartoons?" And I know right away that it's in the 700's...740's, I think. Sure enough, we walk over and find exactly what they need. I'm old-school enough that I refuse to buy an e-reader. I LIKE books. I bring my girls to the library at least once a month, if not more, and we check out more books than we can carry. I like the way they smell. I like that I can still go and check out the very same books I read as a kid...that I shelved while I was in high school.
But ever since November? I walk in that building a feel a tightness in my chest. I choke up at the littlest things...like this corner:
That was the spot we high school pages hung out...hiding from the librarians! There used to be a pull-out shelf there on one of the cases. We had a perpetual game of Solitaire on that shelf, quickly sliding it away and out of sight anytime a patron would walk up or we heard the "swish, swish" of one of the librarians walking toward us. We even adjusted the shelving so that we could look out across several rows and spot them before they got close enough to catch us!
There are memories all over that library. I'm pretty sure my initials are still carved into the inside of the men's room door back by the old business room (don't ask), and I keep forgetting to ask any employee I know that's still there to go check. That portion of the library is off limits to patrons now -- it's part of the staff area. But the wooden wall carving that graced the business room is now the backdrop of the new circulation desk. The basement -- what used to be the staff offices and our break room -- is now part of the Friends of the TPL's book sale space. We used to have to tromp up and down to the storage area in the very back of the basement to the dark recesses and pull Sam's Photofacts and magazines and other periodicals.
Do kids ever KNOW what periodicals are anymore??
Shortly after I was in college, the "new" section of the library was built. The entire adult section, tech room and study areas are expanded into it. It's hard to believe that at one time...the entire library took up what is now the children's section.
Speaking of the children's section...my girls love to go to one particular spot almost every time we're there. I like it, too.
It used to be the 400's of the adult section...grammar, English language, etc. How coincidental, now that I think of it -- I'm an English teacher!
That's where my husband proposed marriage on March 15, 1991. We met at the library in the winter of 1982 as sophomores in high school. We never dated back then...on the contrary, we were adversaries in the beginning! He put me through a RIGOROUS hazing as a new page. He'd hide as I walked along shelving books, systematically pushing the largest ones he could see from the aisle next to me. He'd push my cart over so that I'd have to re-sort and alphabetize them before I could shelf them. He was a menace! There was so much more...but we got over it. And I loved it...I loved the camaraderie we pages all had with each other. We were loyal, we were hard-working, and we were dedicated to that library.
So now I bring my children there...I show them where Mommy and Daddy met...where we were engaged...where I spent my summers as a child reading in the same summer program as they do...hanging my construction paper die-cut on the same walls as they do.
Only now, I look at the books, the shelves, the plants...
...and I wonder...
Who will water those plants when it closes?
Who will keep the memories of that building alive? (Click).
Where will kids go to learn, to study, to socialize, to read?
Where will adults who need so much more (internet, resources, tax forms, classes) go?
Who would close a library???
It's time to save our library. We all deserve it. No...we NEED it.
Esteemed Mayor and Councilmembers...do the right thing tomorrow. Find a way to compromise with each other and save my library. Save it for the community.
Save it for Troy.
JUST SAVE IT.