For the Love of Libraries

Happy National Library Week! You did know it was National Library Week, didn’t you? I personally have had it marked on my calendar all year; in no way did I accidentally run across this fact on NPR a couple days ago . . .

Okay, so I may not have known something as awesome as National Library Week was happening as I laid my head on the pillow on Sunday night, but as soon as I found out I knew I had to celebrate.

My love affair with libraries started very, very early. From my early childhood until his retirement two years ago my father was an elementary school librarian. I spent many summer days in his library, shelving books, creating bulletin boards or curled up in the corner pulling one Babysitter’s Club book after another off the shelf. (This was the reading equivalent of watching a whole series of shows on DVR, no need to wait to check out the next installment!)

In high school I discovered the Alderman library at the University of Virginia, with its marble lobby and narrow staircased stacks. Searching for a book felt like a delightfully creepy adventure. And finding it was like finding buried treasure.

A few years later in college I volunteered to shelve books at the local elementary school library. At the time I just thought of it as a desire to volunteer. In retrospect, those hours spent in a place that had been my second home throughout childhood probably kept my freshman homesickness at bay.

And then, the pinnacle of all library experiences, as a graduate student I had access to . . . the Graduate Reading Room. Located on the top floor of the library and requiring a swipe of your student id to get in, it was like a private club for library lovers (or you know, a really, really quiet place to read – but I prefer my version).

So a big “happy library week” to everyone out there who keeps our libraries running. The helpful librarians who plan programming and order books and likely do countless things we know nothing about. The maintenance people who keep them clean and functional. And, of course, another heartfelt celebratory greeting to anyone else like me who counts their hours spent in libraries among the most formative of their experiences.

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