When I was little, the library was a big part of every day life. We moved around a lot, but I can still see the library in every town where we lived. Each of those buildings gave structure to my formation. Every dusty shelf, every old table, that musty, ivy covered smell of the library on Charleston Air Force Base still stand sharp in my mind. I was there during the seventh and eighth grade. My father challenged me to read every book in the young adult section. I rose to the challenge. Every single volume.
When the three big boys were little, I took them faithfully to the library in our hometown, the same library where Mike’s mom found me the morning after he and I had had an epic argument during college. She spotted my car in the parking lot, went inside, offered her undiluted perspective, and changed the course of my life. In the library. It was also in that library that I first read about homeschooling.
When we moved west to our new hometown, the library was about 40 minutes away. I wasn’t daunted. I packed those little boys and my pregnant belly and we went to the sweet, beautiful library in Purcelville. My dear friend Leah was the manager there, so library day was a chance for me to visit a little and get a book fix. After that baby arrived though, and our homeschool co-op was in the opposite direction of the library, more often than not, I just called Leah with a list and she brought me books.
A little while later, a library opened a bit closer. I was game to pack five kids (or was it six by then?) into the car for the half hour ride to the library. The first day there, as I was trying to keep everybody still and quiet in the checkout line, Librarian One sighed loudly to Librarian Two, “Now we are going to have all these people from South Riding at this branch. We don’t have a circulation to support that.” I have no idea if it was coincidence or if she knew I was from South Riding. I just know we never returned.
And Amazon has been our friend (and our nemesis) ever since. We have a formidable home library.
Late last month, a new library opened five minutes from my house. A beautiful, amazing new library. And we were there. Oh, were we there!
I got a sneak preview before the opening, met my friend Megan there for a tour for educators. We might have gotten lost for a few minutes back in the cookbooks.
The children counted down the days until it was their turn. We began our day at home with a thorough reading of B is for Bookworm, every detail, sidebar, and rabbit trail was carefully considered. I discussed the nuances of the library and quizzed my kids to be sure they knew what they were doing and how it all worked.
They were blown away.
This library is astonishing! Every book in the library is brand new. All those unbroken spines! The children’s section alone is larger than that library where people from my town are not welcome. There is a dedicated Teen Room (no adults allowed??), a quiet room (because the rest of the library isn’t expected to be quiet), banks of computers, an eating area, and super cool self-checkout stations. Set in the wetlands, the outdoor theme has been brought inside, so the interior flows beautifully into the huge picture windows and back to the nature outdoors. We’ve been there four times in the last two weeks. Because we can.
After spending a couple hours at the library the first time, Nicholas reluctantly walked with me to the car. “I think I know what I want to be when I grow up. A librarian. I just want to stay here all day. Every day.”