Monday, March 29, 2010

Happily Lost in the Stacks – Memories of Me Monday

Redondo Beach Civic Center Library{Redondo Beach Main Library}

TODAY’S MEMORY JOGGER: “Describe how you feel about libraries and talk about some of your experiences surrounding them.”

I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t love libraries.  I learned to read at an early age, influenced by my parents and my big brother, Mike.  My dad especially read a lot; I have many memories of him reading a book at the breakfast table, or on Sundays in between Sunday School and Sacrament meetings. 

I was read to as a child, every day and, even after I learned to read on my own I often sidled quietly into my little sisters’ bedroom to listen while my mom or dad read them a bedtime story.

Somewhere along the line I discovered libraries; most likely my mom took us kids to the neighborhood library when I was small.  I was in awe that there could be an entire building devoted just to books!  Shelf upon shelf of books, and I wanted to read them all.

In elementary school my favorite days was library day.  The entire class trooped down the hall to spend an hour or so inside a special room set aside to hold what seemed like a million books.  And we could choose any of them that we wanted to borrow, and we could actually take them home for awhile.  I have a specific memory of discovering “Caddie Woodlawn” and “The Wheel on the School” at the Franklin Elementary School library.

In the fifth grade I was chosen to be a library helper.  I got to straighten the books on the shelves, making sure they were aligned perfectly with the edge of the shelf, and that they were in the right order.  This is when I learned about the Dewey Decimal System.  The following year I learned to use the card catalog and yet another world opened up to me.  I could choose any topic I was interested in and look it up in the card catalog and find all the books in the little school library on that topic, or all the books written by a specific author.

I also discovered the Encyclopedia Brittanica and made the goal to read every book in the set from cover to cover.  (No, I didn’t accomplish that goal, though I held onto all the way through high school!)

During the fifth and sixth grades, at Franklin Elementary School, we also had a visit, I believe it was every other week or so, from the Bookmobile.  It would park on the street next to our playground and we were allowed to go out the gate and up the steps into the library on wheels.  There, we had the choice of even more books, books that were not available in our small school library.  I remember clear as a bell one day in the bookmobile, coming across a book called “Brighty of the Grand Canyon” and it was also in there that I discovered and fell in love with “Misty of Chincoteague” and went on to read every book I could find by Marguerite Henry.

My best friend, Judy, loved libraries as much as I did, and in her family reading was as important and loved an activity as it was in my own home.  Sometimes I was invited along when Judy’s entire family piled into the car, on a Saturday afternoon, and headed to the large main branch of the Redondo Beach library system.  It was located near the beach, on Pacific Coast Highway, and it was such an adventure to go there.  It was huge, especially in comparison to our little neighborhood branch library or the school library.  I felt I could get (and stay!) happily lost among the ceiling-high stacks for days and not be lonely or bored.

I still feel that way when I go to a large library but I must admit, I love the little libraries the best, the more snug and personal the better.

As long as there are plenty of books.


Judy said...

Such memories you evoked. And how I love books and libraries, like you. I'm so glad we share that appreciation. Our book adventures are some of my very best memories. :-) I remember when the Redondo library was older and all wood ... this picture is of the renovated library, right?

Susan said...

Oh, I LOVE Brighty and Misty! I still have them! And I positively LIVED for the Bookmobile to come to our tiny, rural village. Such fond memories!