Valerie from Bensen Arizona

The library is a magical place for me.  The library is my sanctuary.  It’s a place where I can escape into a different world of my choosing; all determined by what particular title I select from the shelves.

When I was a child, I can remember my mother taking me to the local library to get my first library card.  I would spend hours there, carefully selecting books to keep me entertained for the next two weeks.  My favorites were anything about horses and anything by Judy Blume.  At one point, I was determined to read every book in the library.  I started with the shelf nearest the front door, but I didn’t make it very far.  When I was old enough, my mother began letting me ride my bike the three miles from home to the library.  That was a special treat.

As I grew older, I became interested in other things and my time at the library became more and more sparse.  By the time I was in college, my only time in the library was spent accumulating materials for research papers and I let that magical feeling get away from me.
    In one of my college classes, we studied The Old Man and the Sea by Earnest Hemingway.  I had read other works by Hemingway in other classes, but for some reason, this particular story really got to me.  I decided I wanted to learn more about and read more by Hemingway.  I made a make a trip to the public library.

Walking into that library brought back such a nostalgic feeling.  I felt like a kid in a magical place again.  There were so many adventures to have, so much knowledge to gain, and so many books to read!

I satisfied my yearning to read and learn about Hemingway.  I also discovered many different types of music - blues, international, classical, opera, and more – thanks to the extensive music selection available. To this day, I cannot get enough Celtic music, all because I happened upon an Irish CD on a trip to the library.   I read novels and biographies and self-help books.  And there were movies!  I didn’t remember libraries having movies when I was a kid.  I took the opportunity to catch up on the classics:  Casablanca, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The African Queen.

When my kids were old enough, I wanted to share the magic with them and my regular trips to the library began including some time in the children’s area.  Before sating my own thirst for literature and knowledge, I would help my two sons select their books to check out.  It was so cute how they would hug their books to their chest, beaming with pride that they were borrowing a book from the library.  That in turn would cause me to beam with pride over such book-loving young men.

My oldest son is now old enough to visit the library on his own after school and he is sharing my enthusiasm for books and learning.  My husband has caught him with books on ancient Egypt, building internet websites, and the Civil War.  My youngest still enjoys his time in the children’s area and his nightly bedtime stories.  Both boys have very vivid imaginations.

So you ask me how the library has changed my life.  The library has given my family a place to learn, a place to escape, and a place to experience faraway places.  It has made us more knowledgeable, more imaginative, and more enlightened.  It has brought us closer and that is the best change of all.