Alison from Poughkeepsie, New York

How Has the Library Changed Your Life?

By Giving My Life a Place of Constancy, Familiarity and by Giving Me a Love of Learning

I know that time and technology has updated and improved what a library can now offer. Items like computers, books on CD, and video tapes are now commonplace as “next door neighbors” to books. While these new additions are both helpful and fun, for me, the most important and life changing quality the library still offers is that it provides an island of constancy and familiarity in a world smitten with change. The library will always be a place I can go to learn and enjoy and, unlike chain bookstores and “here today and gone tomorrow” websites, it will always be there for me.

As a child, I entered my small town of Wappingers Falls, New York’s Grinnell Library, with reverence, respect and great anticipation. An old building with a castle-like turret on one side, it ignited my imagination and love of books and learning. I can still remember going up the twisting staircase to a dimly lit, serene world of tall wooden bookcases, and experiencing the tangible sensation of being surrounded by more knowledge and stories than I could ever learn or read in a lifetime. Grinnell Library also had the macabre attraction of a dusty, encased display of birds and animals forever preserved through the help of taxidermy. This display both mildly frightened me and intrigued me at the same time and it only added to the magical feelings the library evoked.

As I grew older, libraries continued to be a steadfast part of my life and love of learning as I went through school, then college, and on to being a young mother. It was through  bringing my children to story hours at my local library that I realized how important the constancy of libraries was to my life during all of its changes – schools, jobs and family. I even found myself seeking out libraries while on vacation and enjoying the unique nuances and personalities that each library offered. After volunteering at a grade school library and then working at my local high school library, I realized that I wanted libraries to be a part of my life, and life-long learning to be a part of my life. I wanted to become a librarian. Armed with the supportive encouragement from the librarians I worked with, I entered SUNY Albany’s master’s library program at the age of 41 and will complete the program this year.

My college classes have given me a lot of opportunity to think about why libraries are so important to my life. I believe that the most life changing, and quality of life giving, things the library has offered to me are its rock-like constancy, simply being there no matter where I go, and its awesome power to excite me into learning forever.

I have a framed picture of my childhood’s Grinnell Library hanging in my kitchen, and not a day goes by that I don’t look upon it with fond memories and thankfulness.