Cleaning my purse, I am amazed at the ridiculous amount of plastic cards I need to navigate through everyday life. There is one card, however, that I cannot do without. It is my library card.
I do not remember the age or exact day that my first library card was presented to me. Surely it was during those first years of reading on my own. Many long, hot summers of my childhood were spent in the fantastic worlds I found in books. My parents were avid readers and watching them devour a novel made me hunger to read even more.
During my school years, books purchased through class caused anticipation so intense I could hardly contain myself knowing they had arrived. When the teacher finally distributed the orders, it was as if pure gold had been placed in my hands. Mrs. Stan, my 5th grade teacher, encouraged my passion for reading and frequently brought me her daughter’s outgrown Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden mysteries. Their exciting adventures were intoxicating for a young girl.
I have never lost my love for the written word, and through the years tried to share with others the wonders of reading. A neighbor once asked why I always read so much. Wasn’t it just like schoolwork she would say? One day I presented her with a small paperback romance and asked her to give it a try. She was hooked by her discovery of the simple pleasure of a good story. Many of my adult students have asked how I know so many tidbits of knowledge. Reading I tell them. I may not be a world traveler, but I have seen exotic countries around the globe in my mind’s eye. I have met the famous and infamous and roamed the universe and lands of fantasy. Who could ask for more?
Standing in he midst of a library full of books, I marvel at the astounding amount of words that reside within its’ walls. There is nothing more comforting than a room filled with shelves of my wordy friends. Often I try to imagine what life would be like without these written pages of thoughts and dreams. E-mail has virtually replaced handwritten letters. Newspapers and novels can be read on-line. Not having the weight and feel of a book to hold is difficult to contemplate. They are stress relievers, an escape from everyday worries. A life devoid of literature would be a sad existence. I am reminded of the science fiction novel Fahrenheit 451 and its’ book people. The written word was banned and their lives were dedicated to memorizing literature before it could be completely destroyed. What a difficult task it would be to choose just one book to memorize for posterity.
Reading has brought me endless hours of gratification and immeasurable insight. I fervently hope libraries will continue as a cherished source of human thought put to paper waiting to expand the minds of future generations. This, I believe.
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