As a child growing up in the country-miles from friends and playmates-I filled my summers with books from our county's public library. One
summer, I decided to make a list of the books I'd read. The list swelled to thirty-two before the end of July. Books took me places,gave me thirst for adventure and an itch for new experiences. And because I read practically everything our library offered me, my imagination never ran dry. I saw the kind of adventures that characters had in books as possible-even guaranteed-for me. Because reading expanded every corner of my world, I never saw myself as just a country girl who might never get to see what lay beyond the horizon.
I grew older, and my reading tastes began to solidify. I gobbled up Laura Ingalls Wilder stories and the Betsy and Tacy books, when they weren't checked out by friends who also enjoyed them. One day in eighth grade, some friends and I were studying at the library for an exam-complaining about our teacher more than actually studying. My friend Donna and I discovered a mutual appreciation for Lois Duncan books; she and I rushed through our study session so we could search the shelves for more Duncan books as yet unread.
Our public library also fueled my passion for horses. I read The Winter Pony and The Summer Pony and dreamed of having a horse for a best friend. Later, my parents bought me an ornery Shetland pony who did her best to quell that dream, but I continued to devour horse stories.
Who I was and who I was becoming were being shaped by our library. In sixth grade, shy and insecure, I entered a poster contest for National Library Week at our local branch. I took the theme-"Get Ahead; Start at the Library"-and tweaked it to be "Get a Head Start at the Library." I created a poster depicting runners sprinting toward the finish line atop a hill, with the race ending at the library. I won first place and five silver dollars! I got my picture taken for our county's newspaper, and my confidence received a healthy boost.
With the dawn of the computer age, I spent many Saturday hours "playing" on the computer at the library, getting my first taste of coming technology. Years later, I filled out a scholarship application using the electric typewriter at our library.
Reaching adulthood, I've continued to find so many needs met through my local library. It gives me a place to take a break and flip through magazines, or a cozy nook to settle down with my Bible and journal, as well as a source for the literary classics that I missed reading in high school and college.
When my husband and I got pregnant, I learned about pregnancy nutrition through a library book. When I want to watch a foreign film that the video store doesn't carry, I find it at my library. When I long to read about survivors-who've walked through abuse, abandonment, adoption-I find those stories at my library. When I need to be challenged in my work outs, I have an array of exercise videos at my fingertips at our library. When I want to be inspired by people who've made a difference, I know just where to look for their stories in my library. With a baby arriving soon, I anticipate utilizing our library even more, for the development and education of our child.