We miss you. We miss our Tuesdays hanging out all morning at the library.
You don’t understand our love for you. It borders on unhealthy obsession for some of us. Some of us have lamented that you aren’t open on Friday nights so we can go out and party it up with you, perusing your aisles at leisure on a date with ourselves.
And as a homeschooling family? Sweet Jesus. You have saved us. You are the gatekeeper for all of our resources. Homeschoolers are traditionally one income households. This means that we just can’t buy all the books that the curriculum of choice recommends. There is an anxiety like no other than entering the name of a needed book for an upcoming block and clicking “search” to see if it is available at the library. And the feeling when that book shows up as not only existing at the library but available for pick-up? One word: orgasmic. (To my homeschooling peeps, you know what I’m talking about.) The only thing slightly more exciting is when ten holds come in at once. What shall I read first??? Gah!
Some days you have been our oxygen mask, our time out. When we have felt cooped up from prolonged illness or inclement weather, you are a breath of fresh air. Your audio books maintained our sanity on road trips. You were a rainy day activity or a centre of research or a muse of inspiration.
We have been known to have 30-40 books out on loan. While my husband reads one book at a time, you can find me rotating through at least five books during the day. I have spiritual reading, some non fiction reading, curriculum themed reading, poetry, and of course, fiction for bedtime. Sometimes I finish the book, sometimes I don’t, often reading exactly what I needed to read that day. The kids all have their favourites too. One loves thrillers, one loves fantasy and fiction, one loves non fiction, one loves craft books, and one loves books on panthers. (Yup, just panthers. Last week, it was pumas.)
The library has become a place more than a resource for learning. It is a lesson in itself. A lesson in not having to buy everything. We can borrow and give back. We don’t need more things. We can appreciate a book and even if it’s the best book we’ve ever read, we have to let it go. If they really love it, then they can take some time to think about it before buying it. It is also the equalizer. Everyone has access to knowledge. Everyone.
Right now I am reading A House Somewhere: Tales of Life Abroad. Edited by Don George & Anthony Sattin, it is a collection of stories from different authors writing about their adventures in building a house and creating a home in a foreign place. You would think that I looked this book up in light of our current circumstances and sought it out in your shelves. But no, it found me. One of my favourite sections is the travel section. I like to read travel writers. I wasn’t looking for any book in particular but there is was – this book that would have meant nothing to me a year ago but now feels written for me.
I stumble upon books like The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood. A great little piece twisting a familiar epic and telling it from the female perspective. It hit the spot. It’s what I needed to read.
This is the magic that happens to me with you.
I love how the kids could go down to the kids section and hang out while I wandered the stacks. We did toddler time with all the kids and listened to the librarians tell stories. I read story after story with many children squished in my lap on that blue cozy blue couch. And I never got sick of saying no over and over again to the kids as they asked for a treat for that bloody vending machine in the snack area.
My kids missed you so much that when we were in the city today, they asked to visit you. They hung out there for two hours with their grandfather while Chris and I renewed our passports. But the best thing about you is that we can keep in touch while we are abroad. As long as we have some internet, we can take books out on an electronic device in the jungle. Or we can start our own little free library or book exchange keeping your spirit alive wherever we go.
As much as the kids think of you, they are excited at exploring a different one near their grandparents’ house. A new library card and a new library to get to know. They wonder if the children’s section there is any good: Do they have reading nooks? Do they have a good selection of picture books? Do you think that they carry different Kit Pearson books? (My third daughter’s current favourite author.) This is the same library that I visited every day when I first moved to this same area after my mom remarried when I was twelve years old. It was my best friend and my sanctuary. A place for me to lose myself in my imagination and in other people’s stories so I didn’t have to deal with my own. I taught myself how to draw with the books in this library. I copied down poetry from books in this library. It is in this library that I fell in love with Tolkien, Bradbury, Asimov, and Clarke.
As they struggle through this transition period, between homes and facing a lot of unknowns, we will visit you as often as we can and spend time in the new library around the corner that once helped me through my own transitions. I know what it’s like to read a good story where I watch a character finally live the life of their dreams. And although they don’t see it yet, we are writing that story together. But for now, maybe your magic can lead them to a story they need to hear today.
Thank you for helping my children fall in love with books and for allowing them to learn about anything they have been curious about.