This I Believe

Jana - Eastport, Maine
Entered on February 13, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
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This I believe

Twice in the last three years, I have crossed America from Colorado to New England by way of small town libraries. Both times I traveled alone. The first time I drove from the tiny coal mining town of Cokedale, Colorado to Montpelier, Vermont to attend school. The second time, I drove from Denver to Eastport, Maine to try my hand at a New England winter.

Although I am nearly sixty years old, my father worried about me driving alone. So I took a cell phone and called him every night. And at lunchtime most every day, I would pick a small town with an interesting name and get off the highway for a while to explore. My first destination would be the library. Every small town I visited had one. And they are treasures. I bless Mr. Carnegie often. Without exception, the librarians were friendly, welcoming people. They would let me use the internet to email my dad and let him know that I was in Kearney, Nebraska, that the road was clear and the weather was fine. There was always a clean, warm bathroom and good conversation at the desk. The librarians could tell me the best place to have lunch in town and even recommend their favorite dish on the menu. They could tell me if there was a museum to visit and any historical sites that might be interesting to see. I was a stranger, but I never felt like one in those small town libraries.

When I reached Eastport, Maine, this past September, and felt I had driven about as far as I could go in America, my first stop was at the Peavey Memorial Library on Water Street. It is a red brick building, a beautiful piece of architecture with curving glass windows and large wooden doors. In the big room, paintings by local artists cover the walls. A great model of a ship, the R. A. Pike, sits in a glass case. There are long golden oak tables for reading and writing. The moment I stepped in, I knew I could stay in Eastport. I visit the Peavey Library nearly every day now. Dana and Max sit behind the desk and there is always good conversation and information, a lively exchange of ideas and laughter. I am always welcome in the chair by the fire where I sit and write and watch the snow falling outside the windows. And later, when I head home, warmed inside and out, my arms full of books; I count myself fortunate to have libraries, and especially this one, in my life.