Libraries Transform Stories

Jill from Wickliffe, Ohio

When I first set out to home school my then 13 year old son several years ago, I was completely at a loss for where to begin. I am not a trained teacher. As a single mother with a degree in nutrition, curriculum design had always been far from my mind, but I did know his interests and how he learns. Apprehensive but hopeful, I turned to our local library. They did not disappoint. I was able to easily search topics throughout the entire Clevnet system in a variety of modalities including books, videos, cds, and audiobooks.

Von from Camp Verde, Arizona

If Arizona had a backwoods, that's where I would have been born in 1947. I was born into a family that was short on money but long on seeking knowledge. We had books and it was expected they would be read. By the time I entered kindergarten, I was an accomplished reader. Thank you, Mom. Libraries were a place to get books and, for me, that justified their existence. I don't remember there ever being "children's programs". It seemed to me that children were barely tolerated- seen and not heard. Didn't care. Books.

Lori from Flint, Michigan

When I was 16 and struggling with what it meant to be in love with another girl, the library gave me an alternative narrative from the one that I was developing - that I was a total freak. Understanding what it means to be gay when you are a young teenager growing up in a small town in Michigan - especially then, the 70's - wasn't easy. There were no aunts or uncles or friends or Ellen or Modern Family.

Sandra from Houston, Texas

In the above description of what a library can be for several people, the one that saved my life was left out. A space to feel safe. During my high school years of hormone induced mental balance, I knew that I could depend on my school or local library. I remember the distinct smell of books, the smell of the carpet, the wooden shelves and the soft gardenia smell of one of my favorite librarians. There were many times when I was frustrated, angry or sad and I would see my high school librarian's face and knew there was a bigger world out there. That beyond the walls of that high school there was something more to look forward to besides being bullied, or not fitting in because I was Latina or feeling like I wasn't wearing the right clothes. Instead my librarian would show me books about my culture.

A Mom, a Boy and a Library: The Transformative Transforms

On a hot, muggy Monday afternoon in late July, my husband and I found ourselves sitting in a rented Hyundai Sonata, alongside the newly rebuilt Long Island City, Queens, waterfront overlooking Manhattan’s East River. Our 2-year-old son’s gentle snores from the backseat punctuated the blasting AC. We had parked illegally, partly for the view, but mostly so we could extend the nap our boy desperately needed before our last stop on a whirlwind three-day New York City catch-up-with-friends-while-stuffing-our-faces-with-delicious-food tour. This side trip was part of a larger two-week trip to Eastern Pennsylvania to introduce our son to family, friends, and green landscapes. It was also a covert litmus test for my husband and me to see if we wanted to move back (the answer: no!). So we were already in an emotional place when I looked up and noticed a bookmobile taking in our same view. Immediately my body flushed with warmth, and not because of the pressing heat and heavy humidity outside.

“Look!” I exclaimed, grinning, waves of nostalgia washing over me. “A bookmobile! I remember the bookmobile!”

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