21 August 2008

Booking through Thursday

booking


Whether you usually read off of your own book pile or from the library shelves NOW, chances are you started off with trips to the library. (There’s no way my parents could otherwise have kept up with my book habit when I was 10.) So … What is your earliest memory of a library? Who took you? Do you have you any funny/odd memories of the library?


I do not remember my first visit to the library. I wish I did. It would be nice if I did. It wouldbe a good beginning to the story of how I decided to become a librarian. Alas.

My first memories of visits to the library are stuffed with disappointment. The old library shared an amber-brick building with the town's offices. The children's area not only was small and cozy for a child, but I was bored with it because I already had read nearly everything on the shelves. I would wander into the adult section and settle down with something that interested me, and the librarians would shoo me back into the children's room.

Blessings on my mother! She was, and is, a voracious, eclectic reader. I took after her in both curiosity and a preternatural ability to read when I was three years old. When she realized what the librarians were doing to me, she demanded an adult card for me. Much as the librarians sputtered, she won her point, and I received both an adult card and permission to check out anything I wanted. Anything! I can not imagine what the circulation desk ladies thought when I checked out books on Zen and collections of haiku for myself, and existentialism for my mother.

I was seven.

(Incidentally, those were the days when libraries would not collect Nancy Drew books or anything else that was so worthless. We've come a long way! Maybe too long. Last week, I cataloged a manga Bible.)

The library was so small that when I worked there as a page (at 15) (volunteer), one of my jobs was to fetch materials from the basement storage area for patrons. By the time it was rebuilt, I was in college, where I hated the poured-concrete, cold library with the bewildering Library of Congress classification system and the haughty librarians. I would use it for college assignments, but for my own reading, I would go back to town, where the reference librarian would be bewildered by some of my requests (Kalki? Gore Vidal?) but would accommodate with grace.

(This was a town that was so protective that a clerk in the only bookstore had to be convinced that I was old enough to buy and read Franny and Zooey at 14. She was convinced it was about incest.)

I've worked in libraries for 31 years now - 29 in the same library. That old brick building shaped my life. I raise my cup of hot, amber tea cup to those amber bricks. Cheers!

19 comments:

Aunt Kathy said...

I don't remember my first library visit. In fact I don't remember any of them as a child/teen but yet I know we went often. I have only been to the library here twice, I just never get out. But next year when I am healthy again I will be making regular trips with Adam (my grandson) you can count on that.

Oh I thought of you yesterday when I read a little joke...

I went to the library yesterday and picked up a book on anti-gravity

I can't put it down.

(ok it's lame, but it still made me think of you.)

Bobbi said...

My first memory of libraries was walking home from a visit, with my mom pushing my sister in a stroller while she taught me to read. Later that night I read to everyone at the table, including my grandparents. We all lived in the same apartment building. I was pre-kindergarten.

I visited that library again about 8 years ago on a trip to NYC with my family, my 2 girls. (I lived in New Rochelle, a suburb) The building was still there but it had been converted to offices. When I asked the receptionist what happened, she hadn't heard of the library. "Oh, I think that happened years ago." Sad. My mom read from that library too.

Smilingsal said...

I worked as a library clerk in a high school library.

Donna Lee said...

I don't remember my first visits to the library but I have a strong memory of the smell of the library. The smell of books was and still is intoxicating. Book stores can't match it because they don't have the oldness. I, too, got bored with the children's sections and was pushed out of the adult sections. My mother didn't advocate for me but my grandmother did in her own way. She gave me things to read. I have a nearly complete set of the original Bobbsey Twins books. Talk about dated! I still love my library even though it has expanded and grown and is so different from when I was a child.

Bobbi said...

I need to respond to Donna Lee. Bobbsey Twins! I can't tell you how many times I reread some of them. In one early book, I think, how they packed for a vacation to a beach via a train trip still remains the Ur-vacation-packing-image for me all these many years later!

teabird said...

The only Bobbsey Twins book I remember was the one when they were ice-sledding. But how about Cherry Ames? Trixie Belden? Nancy Drew? I loved those!

Bobbi said...

Ice-sledding, yes! Read that one. Not much on Nancy and never heard of the others.

OfTroy said...

your post inspired a whole post...

Shannon at Confuzzled Books said...

Good for your mom standing up for you and getting you an adult card!

Carrie K said...

I read all the Bobbsey Twins books too! No one knows who they are any much, very often. :(

Wow, I had fabulous experiences at my local library. I was whipping through the childrens section (which was fairly large) and the librarian was the one that told me that I could get books out of anywhere I wanted (barring reference, which I used to sit and read). I think I was maybe 10 when she showed me the biography section.......nirvana!

adrienne said...

Loved Cherry Ames and Trixie Belden!! I only ever read a few Nancy Drew books. But Cherry made me want to be a nurse. It didn't last.

My first library remembrance was as a "volunteer" with my friend Mary. We weren't very old, and basically just hung out at the library for the couple of hours it was open on Saturday. It was TINY - one room. Originally it was the selectmen's office, attached to the town hall. By then, the town hall was where we held plays and quilt shows, and the office became a library. We hardly ever had anyone check out a book - we just didn't have that many. I was maybe ten, twelve? But it was fun.
:)

Ryan said...

I don't remember my first library trip, but I do remember the children's room in my local library when I was little. They had an old, clawfoot tub full of pillows where you could snuggle in to read all the great books! It could get crowded in that tub, but boy was it comfy!

Oh and I loved Nancy Drew!

Bridget said...

Well, you haven't lived until you have cataloged at text message version of the New Testament. Yep.

La Duchesse said...

My earliest library memory is from about age three. Our town library is in the former Independent Order of Odd Fellows hall, which is two floors; the second floor is the children's department. Mom took me there and I remember one of the books being an Egyptian myth about the prince with three fates. We got home, she read it to me, and... I rubber stamped the fly leaf and the endpapers with my name and a lion. Mom explained very patiently that this was not our book even though we brought it home with us; the librarians were very understanding and neither mom nor I were banned from the town library. :P The book is still there, or was when I went in a few years back, and it's still got my rubber stamp marks in it.

Paula said...

LOL! i also read Franny and Zooey at 14! But was encouraged by my freshman english teacher to do so! This was the early 80's when the talks of book burning were going on in our area.
I remember picking books on the blackened list for my english teacher to bring me. She was a rebel and I adored her.
I am sooooo glad we have come along way in the system. But I do miss the old card catalogs and rubber stamped book due cards!

LizzieK8 said...

I remember that my library was segregated between adult and children's section with different colored cards. No child could go into let alone check out books that were in the adult section.

And I was limited to six books. Six kid books that I finished reading in the car before I got home. Although I loved the library, it wasn't really much use to me until I was old enough to get an "adult" card.

Jennifer said...

I don't remember my first visit to the library, but I do remember loving my local library, and spending vast amounts of time at my college library.

Kristin said...

I adore going to the library - I go at least once a week now, and the only books I buy are knitting or quilting books.

It's interesting that commenters brought up Cherry Ames, Trixie Beldon and Nancy Drew. I read the Bobbsy Twins as a kid, but not the others. When I was a senior in college (five years ago! eek!), I took a class called Girl Sleuths and we read all of those stories, as well as some VK Warshovski. It was a great class. My final paper compared Nancy Drew and Barbie (blond, hot car, effeminate and ineffective boyfriend).

Jeane said...

Hello. Not about a library per se but you reminded me of an incident. When I was in third grade, our teacher had several shelves of old paperbacks for us kids to read. I picked out a fat one about pioneers (can't recall the title) and the teacher was dubious about letting me read it. I asked my father and he said he trusted my own judgement and I could read whatever I wanted. I ended up actually being bored with the "adult" parts of that book, but I felt so proud that I could pick and choose from "grown-up" books!