Gotta Love Your Library!

The Teen Advisory Group at the Guelph Public Library launched a campaign recently to encourage residents to discover new books and authors, to use their library more often, and to become more active in their community. They asked all kinds of people to submit a response to their campaign. Here’s what I sent:

I still remember getting my first library card – and that was over fifty years ago! It was light green and I’ll say it was 3 ½ inches wide by 4 ½ inches high, but I may be wrong about that detail. I drove down my old street not long ago and was surprised by how much shorter it was than memory led me to believe.

Kathy reading

I think I appreciated even at the age of five that my library card was like a ticket – a magic ticket – to all the places in all the books on all the library shelves (in the children’s department anyway). Over the years it took me to New York (the All of a Kind Family series), to England (the Swallows and Amazons series), and to China (The Five Chinese Brothers and The Story of Ping). My library card took me inside homes like mine, where there was little money for books or travel, where it snowed in winter, a station wagon sat in the driveway, and the people ate cheese sandwiches for lunch. It also took me into the lives of people whose lives were different from mine, people who rode in rickshaws or on elephants, who ate things I couldn’t pronounce, or whose animals talked to them.

books

I was in grade four when my teacher took us on a class trip to the public library. I was shocked to discover then that not everyone had a library card. How did they live without one?!

It was years before books written by me would sit on library shelves, and be taken home with the eager anticipation with which I’d once taken home Blueberries for Sal, Little House on the Prairie, and Seventeenth Summer. I have no doubt that it was reading all the books I read as a child, a teenager, and into adulthood, that helped turned me into a writer.

I have never, since 1957, been without a library card. If I move, it’s one of the first details I take care of in my new community. I will never live in a house big enough to hold all the books I want to read (even if I could afford to buy them, which I can’t). And although my career as a writer has given me many opportunities to travel, how else can you travel inside another person, except in a book?

So, do I still love my library? You bet!

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6 Comments

  1. Janet Barclay on March 22, 2010 at 6:24 am

    I was also shocked when we took a class trip to the public library and I realized that some of my classmates didn't have a library card.

    At one point I hoped to read every book they had. Needless to say, that idea didn't last long!

  2. Kathy Stinson on March 22, 2010 at 9:45 am

    I had a similar goal, Janet. Great minds…

  3. Dad on March 22, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    I remember one of the times your mom & I took you to the library, you were about 4 & we left you in the children's section while we perused the adult section. The librarian was astonished & called us as she could hardly believe that you were actually reading & had not just memorized the stories. You & Janet can thank your mom for leading you to the wonderful world of books as she was such an avid reader herself.

  4. Kathy Stinson on March 23, 2010 at 9:26 am

    Our mom certainly was an avid reader. I used to think her criterion for choosing books was how fat they were, because skinny ones wouldn't keep her going till the next trip to the library. 🙂

  5. Janet Barclay on March 23, 2010 at 9:54 am

    I think you were right! One time, when I was old enough to go to the library by myself, she asked me to get her some books, and when I asked how I'd know what she would like, she told me to get really thick ones!

  6. Kathy Stinson on March 23, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    So it wasn't just some fanciful idea I made up! That's funny!

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