Hayley from Irmo, South Carolina

Even though the small, red brick building sat just 2 miles from my parents’ home, it had been 15 years since I visited the Fairfield County Library.  After college, marriage, pregnancy, and the dominance of the Internet, I no longer make the trip to the library. Any research materials and magazines that I sought, it seemed, were either at the tips of my fingers on the Internet or already in my mailbox.  A recent business trip, however, landed me right back in the small-town library that I had forgotten about.

A work project required that I take photos of the library and its architectural elements, so I made the 45-minute drive on a sunny Saturday morning.  Upon entering the door of the library, I immediately smelled that paper-and-glue fragrance that, as an English major in college, was strangely welcoming to me.

Just as the smell of fresh baked cookies or homemade bread rekindles a childhood memory, the smell of books brought back memories of my grandmother.

Every week during my early childhood, my grandmother brought me to the library for story time.  At age 4, it was not necessarily the highlight of my day. After all, I had a real tree house, barbies, and a pink-and-purple Hot Wheels vehicle to maintain.  But on a rainy day, story time was much anticipated, and my grandmother stayed and listened just as intently as us kids.

So for several years, until I was about 11, we were weekly users of the library. We took home more books to read, and for a change sometimes, we checked out those books with cassette tapes.  The Fairfield County Library still has the same cassette/book kits available for check-out, but now they’re located behind the new kid-sized computers.  Looking through the kid’s books, I recognized some of them and remember reading them with my grandmother.

Even with the technology changes, the Library still has the same school-red shutters, and the sunlight still trickles in just enough to make a warm atmosphere for reading.

It felt so great to be in the Library again. I wanted to read some of the fun books like “Curious George Goes to the Hospital” and “Where the Wild Things Are.”

I did not understand the positive impact that my early library experience had on my life, but as I snapped away at my photo shoot, I realized that the library and its books shaped many things about me: my beliefs and morals, my college major, and eventually my career.

Although my grandmother has passed away, I’ve also learned that the library is a place that she and I can still share. She took me to the library, a place she loved.  In doing so, she also led me to so many more places. In college, I went to Greece to study Greek literature and art.
Every day in my career, I read and edit “books.”  At night, I have an up-close story time with my son in his room.  It’s the only time I get to hold him now that he’s a roming 3-year old.

Sharing this love of reading with my son is the best thing I’ve taken from the library.  We go to the library to read as well. Not every week, but at least once a month.

I have concluded that even with the Internet, there is still a need for the library in every town or city, large or small. Whether your library has the old cassettes or the fast Internet connection, it’s still a great place to begin a Saturday morning together. And you never know where it might lead you. [Digital photos of this library and me are available upon
request.]