Mari from Miami, Florida

In December of 1960 I came to this country as an 11 year old.  I was anavid reader in Cuba, reading up to one book per day.  Since I did not speak English and there were no books available in Spanish, at that time, I was hungry for the stories that had fueled my vivid imagination.

I lived with my aunt and uncle in Miami because my parents had stayed behind in Cuba and my other two siblings had other relatives.  In January of 1961 I started school in the sixth grade without knowing a word of English.  My aunt took me to the public library, which is still standing to this date. A small building built of coral rock.  It was a child's dream come true, except that I could not read any of the books. I began to read the Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham.  They were simple and with lots of pictures.  From there I graduated to the lives of revolutionary heroes; Betsy Ross, John Paul Jones, etc.

Once again, I could get lost in my own little world. The library became to me an escape from the harsh reality of living without my parents, not having a lot of friends, being made fun because of my accent.  To this day, the  library is a place of solace for me. I can read the latest magazines free, can view movies that I did not get to see in the theater, hear guest speakers.  Also, besides reading, when I am out of town I go to the library so that I can use the internet for free.  The library has evolved into the 21st century and I am a happy participant of its growth and the feeling of contentment it gives me.