Helene from Urbandale, Iowa

The projects of Brooklyn, New York encouraged me to read. I read to escape the smells of the hallways, the frigid air of the evenings when the heat was turned off, and the grating sounds of the neighbors fighting, heard too clearly through the common walls.  Books were my sustenance, the inspirational juice coursing through my mind, the nutrition of a city child yearning for safety and harbor.

In my journey to cavort with Nancy Drew, Winnie the Pooh, Jane Eyre, Oliver Twist or Emma, I was faced with a major problem. Books cost money, and there were limited resources remaining after bills were paid each month. So, the neighborhood library became the secret place where I could escape to indulge myself with millions of words and entrancing pictures. In the library, there were new places with unfamiliar names to visit in the map books, stylish fashions to critique in the women's magazines, and thousands of appealing, beckoning book jackets tempting and inviting me to disappear among their pages.

I was a frequent visitor as a young child listening to the librarian with the broad smile read books to an audience of children finding it very hard to sit still. Through public school, college and graduate work, I visited the library without hesitation, longing to set aside my reading assignments to be able to drift among the shelves to get lost in the beauty of fiction.

Throughout, the library had answers when life was full of too many questions. And always, there were books and audio-books to embrace me when the world was worth running from. The public library offered knowledge and
information and brilliance for free. There was a quiet, comfortable place to sit and read or think or study or write. I could even take home those books I could not read during my visits or those I needed to read again and again.
As a knowledge seeker, I could have my fill within the walls of the library; there was no end or limit to the satisfaction.

Words became my anchors. When I became a teacher, I offered the gift of the library to my students. Watching their eyes grow large as they scouted for the perfect book, I would be reminded of my continuing joy and fulfillment in the many volumes surrounding me. Visits for pleasure or to research a topic assigned by a graduate professor were equally rewarding. My own children became frequent guests with favorite books and characters always waiting for them behind the huge, glass doors. The search was as pleasurable as the discovery; the voyage into reading as exciting as finding just the right book.

Today, I am an author. I have met the challenge of the authors I have befriended in the library, and I have poured my spirit into a book for others to read. The book is about teaching English language learners and how to have conversations necessary for educators to succeed. As I wrote and revised and revised some more, I kept my dream in focus - to world of the library and to provide others the joy that books written by others have always offered me. I am a reader and a writer, and the library helped me to achieve my dream.