Tara from Baton Rouge, Louisiana

I lived in Baton Rouge, Louisiana until I was 13 years old, and then moved to a small town in Tennessee.  Ten years later, I returned to Baton Rouge.  I am married to a captain in the Baton Rouge Fire Department and have a nine-month-old son and a 17-year-old stepson.  I work as the Special Events Coordinator and Executive Assistant to the Publisher/CEO of the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report.

As a child, I struggled with living in an abusive and dysfunctional home.  I often turned to the library for a sense of comfort.  When you are raised in a home where there is fear, and you can go to a place where there is not, it is just a relief.  And, when you get to that place - I’m referring to the library - you’re getting tools to help you cope.  Because, that’s what reading does for kids who are in situations that are not good.  Reading gives you an outlet and an escape into something normal.  It allows you to go into situations and "see" lives that are happy and good.  And that is much more important than people realize.

The library provided a tranquil environment for me.  It provided books that allowed me to escape into peaceful and normal situations. So many people see the library as just a place to read books, but it is so much more than that to a lot of children, especially to disadvantaged children.

My situation was not unique. When disadvantaged children, or children who live in dysfunctional families, get to go to the library, that’s a huge thing. I remember when I was growing up, the library was peaceful and serene.  And, it wasn’t just the experience of going; it’s what I got from there when I went - a feeling of safeness. 

Although the library made a definite impact on my life, I was not the only sibling in my family to find valuable and positive resources at the library. I have 3 brothers.  From a very early age, my middle brother hated school, until someone got him interested in reading books by Louis L’Amour.  He is now a physical therapist.  The library changed his life and I believe the library was the reason he was able to continue in education and become successful.

In addition, I believe that reading is a fundamental tool for everyone, increasing vocabulary, educating and opening minds.  For children in a healthy family environment, the library helps expand reading skills and vocabulary, and helps them to become more articulate.

I still read to this day.  I remember reading whatever I could get my hands on when I was younger - from Little Women, the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and Amelia Bedelia. As I got older I began to read more in-depth novels and biographies.  Currently, I enjoy books by Joyce Meyer and others.

We have a great local system, the East Baton Rouge Parish Library, with dedicated people like Lydia Acosta and Kimberly Hearld, who truly care about promoting literacy.  When I finish reading books, I stack them up and bring them to the library.  I buy books, and then I give them back.  If I gave every book I’ve ever owned to the library, it would still not, in any way, come close to repaying what the library did for me.