I can tell a lot about a community from their public library. After all it takes a significant investment to start and maintain a house of books. And public libraries, if they have the support, offer a lot more such as access to computers, DVDs and programs.
My first experience with a library was in my hometown, thanks to my mother, who is a voracious reader. Once or twice a week we went to the Millicent Rogers Library in my hometown of Fairhaven. (A resident who got super rich from oil long ago had the library built in memory of his young daughter.) In the summer, the bookmobile stopped at the bottom of our street.
Mom got a stack of books. I did the same. When I was a teenager, I planned to read every book in the library — going through the alphabet. The plan fell through when I encountered uninteresting books in the B section.
I did learn to hypnotize my youngest sister — fodder for another post — from a book at the library, of course.
When I was a young adult, I moved around a lot. I always looked for the public library wherever we lived. I was happy when I found one, sad when I didn’t.
Worthington, a hill town in Western Massachusetts where I lived 25 years before moving to Taos, had a great library for its population of 1,200. The library was a one-room building jammed with books. The kids went to story hour. I came for my stack of books. I recall mentioning to Julia, the librarian, I liked reading Hollywood biographies and she kept ’em coming long after I lost interest. But there was a lot more to read in that little library’s stacks.
Now I live in Taos, which has a rather large library. I don’t go as often as I did in Worthington, but then again I tend to buy books instead of borrow them. I do visit, as I did the other day, to scout out new authors or books from those I like that I haven’t read.
I simply show my card at the desk and agree to bring the books back before my time is up. What a concept.
ABOUT THE TOP PHOTO: That’s the interior of the Taos Public Library taken from the fiction department.