I am forever grateful for my local library as it is/was the pinnacle of the neighborhood. I took journeys near and far thanks to the knowledge planted, watered, and harvested.
My mom worked so at one point I was a latch key kid. I enjoyed the free meals the library provided, fostered friendships, and before I knew what a passport was I kind of had one. I read books on everything. I was the kid in school who finished her classwork and homework in class just to read or write books. I stayed up past my bedtime on school nights reading fiction with a snack by my bedside.
Someone, somewhere told me that knowledge was one of the most valuable currencies a person could have because money and things could be taken but words and knowledge were forever and that stuck with me. Growing up poor, I wanted knowledge. I had to consume every book, every poem, and every play. I even had to negotiate with my mother when we would move and she would tell me, “you have to get rid of some of these books.”
I wasn’t on a mission to put Pizza Hut out of commission, but the more books you read the more free pizza they gave you.
I remember my golden era at the Braddock Carnegie Library. I won a hula hoop championship, we had talent shows, an elephant gift exchange, and basketball games for days. We even had field trips to places like girl scout campgrounds and pools. They were constantly taking us to different pools. Times were different but their mission is still the same.
Oddly enough, years later in college, I found myself camping out at the campus library. My parents hadn’t gone to college so I stayed at home the first year to ease into the transition. The library was my home away from home. It was so quiet and no one hung out there so I’d keep the books comfortable. I got more excited senior year when I became the editor of The Carlow Chronicle and my office was in the library. That meant I got kicked out of the library a lot because they closed at midnight and falling asleep at the keyboard while learning Quark was not a valid excuse to live there.
“If you’re ever looking for me, start at the library.”
We don’t give our libraries all the love they deserve. They were there for me when I was hungry for nutrients and knowledge and they never turned me away. They must be protected at all costs because kids and adults still fall in love with them every day.
“I was greedy in knowledge and curiosity. I was raised to question everything but I enjoyed suspending reality for an hour or two in the children’s reading room.”