I’m gearing up for a big deal on November 10. In fact, my preparation has turned my back bedroom into a storage facility. Boxes of books are stacked up for a book signing that will take place at a rather prestigious event in our city. This year I was invited to speak at “The Friends of the Library” Annual Breakfast which will raise funds for the one library we have left. When I was a kid, there were several library branches around Racine, but now we only have one left.
I’m very honored I was asked to speak at this event because our libraries are something that we need to protect. Growing up in Sturtevant, (a small village about six miles west of Racine), my only exposure to a library was a bookmobile that stopped at the public school twice a month. I was fascinated by this special vehicle, which was really a city bus retrofitted with bookshelves and a check-out desk. But to a elementary school-aged child, it was a fascinating vehicle, which opened my imagination to all different kinds of things.
If it hadn’t been for that glorified city bus, I wouldn’t have been able to read my favorite stories about deep sea adventures and imaginary ships that explored space. The unfortunate thing about having the bookmobile come to our village was I never got a chance to visit a real library as a child. In fact, I didn’t really walk through a library until I went to high school. This lack of exposure caused me to be intimidated by libraries.
The sheer mystery of the place frightened me. Terms like the Dewey Decimal System, card catalogs, inter-library loans, made me feel stupid because I had not idea what they meant. So, I avoided libraries until I found myself at the University of Wisconsin. I know it’s crazy, but I was probably the only English major on campus with a library phobia.
I’m happy to tell you that like other childhood maladies, I out grew my fear of the library. Now I can roam the stacks like a great explorer and discover things I didn’t know before. I can “meet” famous people. I can go on journeys that I might never otherwise take. I can escape to worlds I never knew existed, or remember events that I’ve lived through. Best of all, I can research details for the books I write.
If you have small children in your life, I beg of you–PLEASE take them to the library. Don’t let them grow up like I did with an unnatural fear of a building that holds so many wonderful gifts.
Better yet, if you can support your local library, do so. Even if it means just going to a breakfast to hear an author speak. If your interested, here’s the story that appeared in our local newspaper: http://www.journaltimes.com/calendar/benefit-and-fundraiser/breakfast-with-the-authors/event_033d6bec-21ee-11e2-bb03-0019bb2963f4.html