One of the listserv topics this week is “First Library” – what’s the first library experience you remember, your first library book, etc. Thinking about it makes me tear up, of course, I’m a total sap and cry at everything.
Libraries and books played a huge part in my life. My siblings are all readers, but my oldest sister is the more voracious reader AND she worked at a bookstore when I was a kid so she was the COOLEST. She would always keep us supplied with what our mom refused to buy (for example, thanks to her buying V.C. Andrews for herself and V, I read them sooner than I should have. There’s a pretty significant age gap between the four of us…my bookstore employed/now 2nd grade teacher sister is 15 years older than me, my brother is 12 years older, and my sister that lives here in AZ is 7 years older.) But my sister couldn’t supply me with everything so there was also the library….
Before the big fancy library that’s far from everything, my hometown had a two-story library behind the courthouse. I thought it was so cool to go upstairs. I remember my elementary school library even better and the librarian there was amazing – sometimes she would even let me go to the forbidden section for older kids.
I’ve been thinking about the books that had the biggest impact (and,obviously, the libraries that made reading those books possible). I remember this one book about ballet that I read in elementary school – I really wanted to be a ballerina (I swear it’s not Ballet Shoes by Streatfeild, but I can’t find the book on the web!). I loved Freddy the Pig and read every Freddy book in my elementary school library. While I didn’t want to be a pig, I’m pretty sure my love of Freddy is why I read Animal Farm by Orwell in 6th grade. I didn’t understand it at 12, but I’ve read it several times since then.
When I was in middle school, I read a lot of R. L. Stine, Christopher Pike, V.C. Andrews, Stephen King, and John Grisham. I’ve read most of the early works of each of those authors, but the one with the biggest impact is John Grisham. Reading his early books made me want to be an attorney (in Louisiana or Mississippi). Grisham made it sound so exciting!
Without the public library, I wouldn’t have read Bridget Jones’ Diary in high school. It sounds silly but through Bridget, I learned that everyone has body issues and it is OK to be flawed. I might have totally ignored one of my favorite authors because I wasn’t required to read any Jane Austen in high school. I still remember the day I discovered Emma at the public library (and the cute Kevin Arnold look-alike that volunteered there).
My love of libraries continued in college when I was stoked to discover that I could do my work-study AT THE LIBRARY! I was still interested in law thanks to Grisham, but it’s when I realized that I could BE a librarian that I started to think about library school. At Chatham, the librarians and IT staff were the coolest people. They make up a large part of my college memories and I keep in better contact with Jenn and Karen then most of my friends from college.
Now that I’m a librarian, I see the impact books have on everyone – kids, teens, adults. I love how technology is used to spread the word about good books – #fridayreads, Goodreads, LibraryThing, BLOGS! I love the feeling of overwhelming awe I get whenever I walk into any library – no matter how big or small. I love that because of libraries, I met some of my favorite people (even if a few are fictional). I love books (and deep down I still want to be a lawyer in Mississippi because of John Grisham).
What books influenced you? What’s your “First library” memory?