“Intelligent people are always ready to learn. Their ears are open for knowledge.” Proverbs 18:15

It’s National Library week and I want to celebrate this magical place of wonder. As I child, I was enchanted with my monthly visit to Mead Public Library in Sheboygan, WI. At the time, the children’s section was on the ground floor. I quickly rushed head of my mother and siblings, through the double glass doors to step on the carpet in front of the six-foot animatronic Kangaroo, waiting for her traditional greeting. Then I rushed around the library, looking for places to go and adventures to have through the pages of books. After we checked out our stacks of books, we would head to Frederick’s Bakery for donuts. The smell of fried pastry wafted through the doors as we entered the bakery. I then picked out my favorite, a chocolate mudpie. We went back to the car, and I opened a book, devouring the warm gooey donut as I entered Narnia.

Macaroni and cheese always makes the list of people’s comfort foods, but if I had a comfort place, it would be the library. I love the shelves of books covering all subjects: cookbooks, gardening hacks, biographies, historical fiction, and the classics. I love the fact that the library is user friendly for anyone, with no cost to join and the amount of information you can access seems unlimited. In many ways I make myself a personal ambassador to the library, sharing its virtues with little people. From the time my own children were two, they have had their own library cards. I later signed them up for the same summer reading program that I had been a part of as a child. For years, we attended the library story time where they heard a librarian read a book, sing a song, and maybe do a small craft. Since then, any child that has been under my care for any length of time has explored the library with me.

Terry and I are both library nerds. We plan our Saturday dates occasionally at the library, checking out a stack of books that I have no hope of finishing in one month. We then grab a cup of coffee from our favorite local coffee shop and hurry home to peruse our books. If our library system doesn’t have a particular book we want, we request it through the inner-library loan system. For a short period of time, we even became members of the Library of Congress, only to walk in awe through the reading room and map room. Currently, we hold library cards for two different counties and often have books checked out from both. We also like to visit famous libraries like the Peabody Library in Baltimore and the Providence Athenaeum, with hopes to hit other famous libraries on our bucket list.

In a future blog, I will be talking about our need to downsize our book collection. I know all of you book lovers might be gasping in horror at the thought. But we often tend to read the books we check out from the library before the ones we own. And in examining our bookshelves, we could eliminate the ones that we could easily access from the library and keep the ones that we underline and reference the most. The point is, as much as I would love to have a beautifully curated personal library, I am content to continue visit my local library to fulfill my bibliophile needs.

It would be easy to look at our smart phones and argue that maybe libraries are becoming obsolete. About four years ago, my oldest uncle and aunt drove from Wisconsin to Rhode Island for my son’s wedding. He had written down the name of the church but forgot the address. Not being very tech savvy, my uncle did what most people in his generation knew to do, he want to Tiverton’s local library to look up in a phone book the address for the church. Even though he could have looked up the address on his cell phone, libraries are using technology to appeal to their patrons in new and innovative ways. They give us access to a large collection of free e-books, audio books, and learning programs, including learning foreign languages. As technology evolves, libraries seem to be on the cutting edge, finding new ways to entice people to learn.

Author Sidney Sheldon said, “Libraries store the energy that fuels the imagination. They open up the windows to the world and inspire us to explore and achieve and contribute to improving our quality of life.” If it has been a while since you have visited your local library, take a short trip and see what your local library has to offer. As you walk in through the doors, take a deep breath, and look around, letting your eyes scan the room. Explore the shelves, and see what adventures await. And just maybe if you are in Carlisle this Saturday, you might see me at the library as well!

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