Ann from Windsor, Ohio

Libraries have always been part of my life.  My mother obtained her Masters degree in Madison, Wisconsin, and was often the head librarian wherever we lived.  My brother and I spent many after-school hours at the library, where Mom could supervise homework, or help with research while tending to other patrons.  From her we developed a keen appreciation for a library's importance in the culture of a town, large or small.

When my step-daughters were small, a trip to the library in Newark, Ohio was a time when I could almost relax, since they were so enthralled with story time, picture books, and the ability to actually choose their own books to take home.  I treasured this library time with them.

Nearly eight years ago, my husband introduced me to recorded books during our hour-long shared commute to Cleveland.  The first one I heard was BBC's version of The Secret Garden.  I was hooked.  Every week or two he and I go to the Middlefield, Ohio library to replenish our

supply.  Our minuscule entertainment budget has also been greatly enhanced by the library's selection of videotapes and DVDs.  How wonderful to be able to watch movies for free!

While I was taking online classes toward an associate degree in paralegal studies, I spent many hours studying in the library, both in a quiet study room, and on the new computers.  Since I am fully aware of my penchant for TV watching, I found this library time beneficial.It forced me to concentrate.  I also enjoyed the solitude, getting up occasionally to refill my hot chocolate at the machine in the lobby. Chocolate is mental food, after all.

Now I have two more reasons for appreciating libraries.  The Middlefield, Ohio library hosts a writers' group every other Tuesday evening, and the Chesterland, Ohio library hosts a fairly recently formed writers' group every other Wednesday evening.  I attend both, and am working on short writing projects in one group and a novel in the other.  If it were not for the libraries hosting these groups, I would not have had such wonderful interaction with other writers, and the opportunity to spread my wings and fly creatively. 

Libraries are magical places.  I see the eager faces of children at the check out counter who can hardly wait to get their

treasures home.  I sense the anticipation of people with stacks of videos or DVDs just before a long weekend or holiday, and know that they will probably be getting together with at least one other person to relax with a good tale.  Libraries dispense wisdom, wit, history, charm, horror, comedy, flights of fancy, romance, science fiction, and plain old-fashioned information.  Where else could so many come to gain so much?

My local libraries, in Mississippi, Florida, and even New Zealand, have provided me so much.  They've offered opportunities for me to give back as well.  Twice I've donated books to my library.  Once, I had the privilege of paying a woman's library book fine so that she could take the book back home and finish reading it.  Enjoying reading as much as I do, I considered it a delight to help a fellow reader.

As a little girl, my heart, mind, spirit (and vocabulary) were challenged by the library books I read.  As an adult, I'm still challenged in all those ways and more through my local library.