This place I speak of welcomes everyone with open arms. There’s one in every community and it’s never far from home. Despite the many riches that this place has to offer, I can’t imagine a resource that’s more under-utilized by just about every adult I know.
This place is your local public library. It’s quite an amazing place, where anyone can walk in and borrow all types of books, magazines, movies, music and more…AT NO CHARGE. Where in the world can you get anything 100% free anymore, much less a massive assortment of stuff that feeds your brain and entertains you?
You only read electronic books? Well guess what—your local library offers thousands of eBooks, electronic magazines and other periodicals that you can download without leaving your house. And did I mention that it’s all FREE?! These days I download all my books and magazines electronically to my KOBO eReader simply by logging onto my library’s database and clicking on whatever I feel like reading. You can borrow electronic books from your library no matter where in the world you happen to be; all you need is access to a computer and your library card number. It’s insane!
What’s even more insane is that I know so many people who don’t bother to explore the goldmine of resources in these taxpayer-funded facilities. (So technically, it’s not truly free. You ARE paying for it whether you want to or not. So why not use it?!)
My community library has always been my favourite place in the world—my deepest gratitude to the Mesopotamians who developed the first libraries back in 2600 BC. And to my dad, who introduced me to the joys of library membership when I was knee high to a grasshopper. Here’s my story.
My earliest memories of my father include the tower of books that he had stacked neatly beside his chair, one always resting open on his lap.
I inherited his great love for books before I could do much more than “read” the pictures. It wasn’t long before he began taking me with him on Saturday morning outings to a place that felt as warm and welcoming as home—a place where I could see row upon row of books no matter which direction I faced.
Dad’s eyes sparkled the first time he explained that this was our community library and I was allowed to borrow as many books as I fancied. He couldn’t have made me any happier had he handed me a bag loaded with sweets. The library was my candy store.
After leading me to the children’s section, dad would wander off to search for treasures of his own. The books with the most colourful spines would be first to attract my attention. Selecting one at a time, I’d page through, reading each word aloud while my mind soaked up the vibrant images. So many stories captured my imagination and lured me into dazzling worlds—where forest animals shared afternoon tea in jewel-toned dresses and feathered caps, where wizards hurled thunderbolts from magic wands and evil trolls always got their comeuppance, where handsome princes on white stallions rescued beautiful princesses in glittering ball gowns. And of course, where everyone lived happily ever after.
It always seemed to me that we’d only just arrived when dad would reappear from behind a shelf, cradling an armload of his own selections and announcing that it was time for us to go home. How difficult it was to decide which books to take with me when there were so many to choose from! I wanted to read them all.
Decades later, books are still my eye in the hurricane of life. The love of reading that my dad instilled in me as a little girl is the most precious gift I have ever received, one that I will be able to treasure long after he’s gone.
No matter how the world changes around me, the library remains a significant part of my life. Where else can one go and be surrounded by volume after volume on every topic imaginable, to enjoy armchair journeys into worlds so different from our own and that we may never otherwise have a chance to experience? Aside from the air we breathe, not much worth having today is still free—except at the library. And it’s been that way for as far back as libraries have existed in our communities.
As a child the public library was a magical place and it still feels that way to me today.
How wonderful that some things never change.