A recent exchange made me consider not only just how important libraries are now in my life, but how much they have been a part of my whole life. It got me to thinking about such things as my earliest visits to the library – and how I still remember getting my very first library card (I was patron #2952), summer book clubs, exploring the “Michigan Room” and discovering old copper photo negatives, graduating from the J-section of Laura Ingalls Wilder and “horsey books” to reading Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea and Melville’s Moby Dick in the “adult” stacks, and so much more. With the public library only four blocks from my childhood home, I spent a great deal of time there, year round, and later had one of my first paying jobs as a Library Page – shelving books, fixing them, putting the cards back in returned book pockets.
It’s no wonder I would end up living now only one block away from a library, but in a town that has struggled for support to keep it open. For one year, the library was completely shut down, voters having not passed a mileage vote to continue operational funding. The next year, the vote passed, 51% to 49%. A meager victory, but a victory nonetheless. Unfortunately, the library had to re-open under shortened hours and is not open when I have time to visit it. But this does not upset me. On the contrary, it makes me see all the more the point to an open library isn’t always about how it serves the individual, but what it provides to the community as a whole. An open library with limited hours is wholly more desirable than a closed library. Each day, it is helping create precious memories for many more new patrons who, I can only hope, will be the “Yes” votes of the future.