Carol from Holbrook, New York

My local library brought hope and change to my life. In order to share the magic of “How the Library Changed My Life” I must start at the
beginning…..

It begins in Holbrook, NY where I lived with my husband and three children.  My four year old son was recovering from viral encephalitis in which he needed much attention to rehabilitate the significant brain damage. Unable to walk and talk, would it be possible for him to ever recover?  After many years, IT WAS. Together with my children I learned to use the library, and through books gained a better understanding of my sons illness. My children participated in library programs, where my son was always welcome. The librarians encouraged my family to participate in story time, movies, arts and crafts and always helping with school projects. Through my library I met other mothers and formed friendships which carried me long into my later years.

But this only begins the story of my extraordinary journey. Many years later, as my children were now entering middle school, I decided to look for a job. By now the library, which I still patronized for programs and books, was starting to really grow as our community doubled in size.
Having been a homemaker and caregiver most of my adult life, I felt at a disadvantage trying to enter the workforce. Where do I begin?  A monthly mailer  advertised career counseling services provided free of cost at ….the library! I made the appointment, met with the counselor and followed her advice to apply at places where I might enjoy working. The very next day I put in an application at my local library, and wouldn’t you know, I was hired as a part-time clerk!

This now sets the stage for the most amazing ride in my life. I worked hard and in time I was offered a full time job.  Unfortunately, before I could accept the offer, my same son who so many years ago struggled for his life, was diagnosed with leukemia. During those long months of his illness, I left my job to care for him full-time. My friends from the library kept in touch, always providing encouragement.  The librarians took care of me by supplying information and materials so easily obtained from library resources. Was it possible for my son to come through this illness as he did so many years ago? Would he be able to continue his life that he worked so hard to keep.  NO, IT WASN’T’. He died fourteen months later. I now reached an emotional rock bottom along with the rest of my family. 

During the months following my son’s death, the library was once again with me, with all its magical information and support. As I tried to work through my grief, I found the library a soothing and supportive place to visit. I read books and magazines while sitting in a favorite chair in the
sun.  Attended lectures and other library programs. My library became a safe place to rebuild my life. 

I eventually returned to my job at the library, where I became a full-time employee in the Children’s Department.  Some days I was so sad I couldn’t work, but the librarians knew and waved their magic wands over me and I was able to go forward. They understood. I remained there for 20 years, motivated and empowered by a desire to “give back” to other patrons what the library had given to me. The library was no longer just a building with books, but a community resource with the power and magic to impact and change lives.  A building filled with access to information, librarians and staff who care, the comfort and kindness to welcome people in. 

My ability to write and submit an entry to Woman’s Day magazine is a direct result of my library experiences. The books and their words penetrated my soul and I was emotionally moved to another level within myself. I now better understand the magic and power of the written word.