Was the library from your childhood as elaborate as the delightfully ornate Law Library in the Iowa State Capitol building? Did your library sport a playful gateway like the Children's Section of the Andover Public Library? Mine neither.
But these libraries, like my town's public library, possessed books that led to adventures far more fantastical than any in my neighborhood. And the pleasant librarians encouraged me to borrow as many books as I wanted--at the rate of four books per check-out, of course.
I couldn't have carried more than that on my bicycle anyway. The two-mile bike ride (no hand brakes, no gear shifts) from my home to the library on a hot summer day was well worth the sweat.
I later learned that the architectural style of the blond brick building constructed in 1929 is Italian Renaissance Revival. In December 2000, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places nr2_shpo.okstate.edu/QueryResult.aspx?id=1581
After a summertime bike ride, I was most interested in making a beeline through the side door and down the stairs into the wonderful coolness of the air-conditioned children's section in the raised basement.
The only thing that you have to know is the location of the library."
The library is one of the first things I've found wherever I have lived. Big or small, sponsored by a municipality, an Army post, or a university, they've all shared their wealth with me.
Not surprisingly, I'm one of many aficionados who agree libraries merit recognition--and public tax dollars. In the United States, many Americans celebrate:
Libraries today are far more than repositories of books.
The author Susan Orlean wrote The Library Book (2019, Simon & Schuster) to showcase the crucial role libraries play in our lives.
In the process, Ms. Orlean investigated the unsolved mystery of the 1986 catastrophe suffered by the Los Angeles Public Library--the worst library fire in American history. Her nonfiction research is packed with history, mystery, and a bit of memoir.
Have you visited your public library lately? If not, take a peek. You might be surprised to see how much it has in store for you.
Until next time, Good Reading!
1. Photos by Lynne Schall:
Lynne Schall is the author of three novels: Women's Company - The Minerva Girls (2016), Cloud County Persuasion (2018), and Cloud County Harvest (November 2022). She and her family live in Kansas, USA.