It was shortly after I entered the First Grade at Annunciation Academy that my very-small world erupted into a complete Universe. The day my first grade teacher—Sister Stephen Maria---
handed me a public library card bearing my name, was the very day my life became an endless adventure.
Saturday after Saturday, they waited for me. Some were sitting high- up,
above my head, while others lay quietly on their sides, near the floor. Several wore elaborate gold lettering and appeared older, more fragile. The ones with aristocratic and noble features almost dared me to touch them….and I did.
Every Saturday morning, alone, I rode a city bus-across town- to the City Library. In the beginning, I was satisfied to visit the children’s reading room and explore its many shelves
of, mostly, picture books. As a fast reader, it didn’t take long to discover my need for fewer pictures and more words.
Because of my height and confident appearance,
most everyone assumed I was older. I walked past the librarian station/check-out desk without hesitation and into the endless shelves of adult reading.
I loved the classics
best, with such authors as Bronte (Jane Eyre), Cervantes (Don Quixote) Edgar Allan Poe, Rudyard Kipling, and Sir Walter Scott (Ivanhoe). I plowed through Shakespeare and easily enjoyed Louisa Mae Alcott (Little Women) but… nothing touched my heart
like Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Later, I must have seen the movie version more than six times.
Today, libraries everywhere are struggling to survive;
to be viewed as relevant; to exist for day-dreamers, new readers, and the most dedicated readers. Sadly… books are no longer important to the young, the restless, and-most importantly-the uneducated.
Supposedly….Technology fulfills everyone's need for dictionaries, encyclopedias, and can answer every possible question. So, this generation says: “Why read a book when you have reality television or
dimensional movies? If you just want to scan the “good parts” of some book… read it as a kindle book on your computer.”
In my experience, technology
is a poor substitute for the “real thing”. Modern devices can’t replace a feeling, a smell, or the classic process of turning-pages; of opening and closing a book’s pages…and re-reading parts that excite you or trouble you or…simply-need
to be read over and over again.
I treasure my books. There’s something magical about opening a book from long ago--- flipping through its pages--- then beginning the process
of reading it from the first page--- to the very end.
As a child, lost and alone, the library showed me its fascinating world of books...books that introduced me to people, families,
and adventure; took me across oceans, into jungles, and even exposed me to far-away castles on forgotten mountain tops.
But, most valuable of all, the library books taught me unknown
facts about love and about life. More than anything, all those priceless books taught me how to love and respect myself.
I've always collected books. In 2008, when I moved to Arkansas and unloaded storages that hadn't been opened in 26 years....I realized that---over so-many years and living in so-many places... I'd accumulated more than six thousand books.
Two years ago--- making a final move..I sold and also donated more than three thousand books from my treasured collection. It made me sad to tell them goodbye but...I knew it was time.
I continued to be surrounded by my remaining books....all three thousand of them because...
Books are my unchanging, forever friends. As long as we're together--
we are happy.