I Know it’s Late, But . . .

April 16-20 was National Library Week and as a lover of libraries, I have to mention it. Of course I celebrated during the week by visiting my local library . . . and paying the fines for my overdue books. It was only $4 this time. Three weeks earlier I had to pay $9. Keeping books too long is a bad habit, I know, yet giving money to the library is easy for me -I believe they are some of our most important institutions. My current library is nice, but when I think of a library, here is the one I think of.

This is the one my mom walked me to, even before I could read. It was built in 1904, one of Andrew Carnegie’s libraries. The stained-glass window inside the domed ceiling mesmerized me for years. I couldn’t wait to know the people whose names -Longfellow, Humboldt, Edison, Poe, Hawthorne, Shakespeare – rimmed the edge. I remember thinking the library was one of the most beautiful buildings I’d ever seen. I still do.

This is the original library, in use from 1901 to 1904. It sat at the back of the same property where the new one was built, the cabin shadowed by the stone structure. I wonder what people thought as they watched it rise.

Long before I read Longfellow and Poe, Mom introduced me to Beatrix Potter – whose books were the perfect size for little hands, Richard Scarry and Dr. Seuss.  We’d come home with stacks – another habit I’ve yet to break – and it was through them I grew to love the perfume of musty old books.

When I was in the 4th grade, my grandparents lived across the street from the library, grandma was a regular patron. One day she took me across, saying she had a surprise for me. Mrs. Gill, the librarian, was waiting for me with a pristine copy of The Nightingale, a book richly illustrated like an oriental tapestry. It was a Caldecott winner and she had saved it so I could be its first reader.

I finally met Poe in junior high, followed by Taylor Caldwell and others in high school.

It was only natural one of the first things I did when I moved to SC, was to get a library card. Through the library I met two of my dearest friends. It was a regular haunt while I homeschooled. And through my overdue fines over the years, I’m sure I’ve paid for a number of its books  🙂

What are your library stories?

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8 Responses to I Know it’s Late, But . . .

  1. Claire A. Iannini says:

    Kim – OMGoodness, you reminded me of the library, and my Dad, and the story about bird’s names. I think old library buildings, like churches and municipal buildings, are the most beautiful structures. Thank you for the memory, and for you! Claire

    • Ahh yes, I remember the story about the birds! LOL I agree about the beauty of old buildings, so much character and artistry in them. Glad the post brought back some fond memories.

  2. Roxie says:

    Hey Kim,
    glad to know we writers do keep books long into the overdue category…I’m so guilty of this!
    Love the pics, what a delightful memory: the librarian saved you a book to be the debut reader, that’s a librarian!
    Excellent post 🙂

    • Thanks, Roxanne. I loved both Mrs. Gill and Mrs. Phipps. They reminded me of two of the fairies in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty – Mrs. Gill was tall and thin, and Mrs. Phipps was short and plump LOL Hubby has threatened to get me an ereader so I don’t have to pay overdue fines anymore!

  3. Rosemary C. Gray says:

    Goodness! Your post brought fond memories of the children’s library in Spartanburg, SC, where I grew up. It was in the original, beautiful ( though) old building beside the newer ‘grown-up’ library. The first sight on entering after descending the stairs was a huge, to little ones, glass case filled with very old dolls. I loved that place and haven’t thought of it in years. Thanks for taking me back. Kim! I enjoyed the post.

    • Thanks Rosemary, always happy to jog someone’s fond memories. I think the old, huge libraries helped establish the sense that something really important took place inside. There was value in the books and research and curiosity that went on. Amazing what we remember, isn’t it.

  4. Susan March says:

    Really nice post Kim. I can envision your Mom,& Grandma walking you too the Library. They did a great job of setting you in the right direction. I so wish I had grown up in Galion. with you,& the rest of the family. Mom use to read a good amount,but I never saw the inside of a library until I was in Elementary School.. I certainly do enjoy your story’s though. Love Ya

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