Thursday, December 2, 2010

At the library

Libraries are magical places. My childhood library was monumental. We went to the city's main library, simply because it was the closest, but also because it was amazing. There are some advantages to small-town living, one of which is that the children's librarian still recognizes my mother when they see each other in the grocery store. I've lived away from my childhood hometown for 16 years; but I had such a close relationship with my favorite librarian that she still asks after me.

I still have my library card with my 3rd grade signature. I would have one from even younger, but I had to turn it in. The earlier card was made of paper. In 3rd grade the library system switched to barcoding, and I got a plastic library card. There was a rule in the children's room of the library: each patron could check out four books per visit. I made my selections so carefully, knowing how I'd reread those four books for several weeks before I traded them in for new stories.

We now regularly take our small children to the Olney library, and imagine my surprise and horror that there are no limits on books. I would have been so good with telling E to select four books but the lovely librarian on the first day said, "sweetie, pick as many as you'd like!"

Do NOT give instructions like that to my child, for she will hold those words in her heart as Truth. Please and thank you?

So the girls run around making piles of books on the little kid-sized tables until I finally point out that we can not carry anymore. E finds a series that she is currently enjoying, such as Curious George, and tries to gather one of every Curious George on the shelves. (Do you know how many Curious George books there are? No? Many. Many many many. Could someone please give a name to the man with the yellow hat already?) L finds a book that enchants her and tries to take every copy of that same book off the shelf. She truly wants all four copies of Learn Baby Sign Language. Try to replace one, let alone three, and she'll shriek for all to hear: my babies, my babies! as if her offspring have been kidnapped.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. There is no physical way to enforce both
1) Pick as many books as you'd like
2) Shh! Quiet voices. We're in a library.

But it's all worthwhile, I remind myself, because I'm providing them The Library Experience. I'm a good mom, see?

Earlier this week, we made our last trip to the library. It closes at the end of the month for a two-year renovation. I know how badly it needs rehabbing; but this is the only library my kids know. It's the one they love and the one that provides the foundation for their sweet library memories.

We'll find another branch to visit, I'm sure.

But it will be bittersweet to spend two years driving past a closed Olney library.

1 comment:

  1. I recetnly took my 10-year old, who's only ever been to the Olney Library, to the Glenwood branch of the Howard County library...he ws like a kid in Candyland. So many books! We had a good time and I would recommend it highly : )