Thursday, April 14, 2011

Library Week - Memories

It's Library Week -- a good time to think about showing your support and appreciation for your local library. Most all of them are in trouble -- budgets being slashed -- just when they're the most needed.

My love affair with libraries began in Tampa at Roosevelt Elementary school in the early Fifties. My third grade classroom had a small library with lots of what we called 'little orange books' -- simple biographies of famous people as children.
 I blazed through all of these little orange books but my great joy was the weekly trip to the school library. I could walk in right now, I believe, and put my hand on the Oz books. 

There was one that featured a sea of vegetable soup and big soft pillowy, buttery rolls -- not unlike those served by the school cafeteria. Though I own most of the Oz books, I've never been able to track down that particular scene. Ah, but I remember it fondly...and the rolls.

At about this time I also accompanied my parents to the 'downtown library' once every few weeks.  Oddly enough, I have no memory of getting children's books here -- I was in a serious cowboy phase and Will James and Zane Grey were my choices. 

The library at Wilson Junior High was well stocked with horse books -- all the Walter Farley books -- as well as various series  --the  Cherry Ames , the Nancy Drews, the Dana Girls ... 

But the Hyde Park Branch Library -- just a short walk away from Wilson -- ah, that was the library of my dreams. My first library card (orange, with a little metal inset) was issued there.  And there, in the children's section I found the Narnia books, Enid Blyton's Adventure series, more horse books, Noel Streaton's Shoes series, and title after title of YA science fiction -- Heinlein's The Rolling Stones, Andre Norton's The Stars Are Ours!, a wonderful time travel adventure, (with a title I can't remember) involving Vikings landing on the Yucatan peninsula  ...

When I'd exhausted the childrens section, I was at last allowed (it took parental permission) to check out adult books -- historical fiction, books on ancient history and archaeology, and Richard Halliburton's travel books were my reading choices as I moved into high school.

Every week I checked out a great stack of books and every night I read late -- traveling, learning, experiencing other times, other worlds, other lives.
As Emily Dickinson put it, "There is no frigate like a Book/
To take us Lands away . . .' 
What were the frigates of your youth?


Marilyn said...

What a wonderful post and tribute to all the libraries in your life.
I would be lost without our libraries. My love of books has been with me all my life - from the very first stories that were read to me when I was very young right up to yesterday when I told a librarian at our local branch that being in a library for me was like a child in a sweet shop.

Bo Parker said...

At Thompson Elementary, a one-room school with six grades, the"library" was a book case in the back of the room with 300 books. I read them all by the time I finished the sixth grade.
I often wonder how my life would have been different if that bookcase had not exited.

Brian Miller said...

i fell in love with books at an early age and the library was where we went as books were a treat, i grew up reading fantastical adventures journey to the center of the earth, tom swift, fantasy and science fiction novels...ah...lot of good memories from books...

June said...

You reminded me of the Bookmobile that came to our K-8 school when I was little. Each grade had to wait its turn to go out to pore through the shelves. We were all so excited, it was like Christmas!
Even though I had my weekly village library visits, any place full of books got my little heart pumping.

Helen T in SC said...

The Boxcar Children, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Island of the Blue Dolphins, A Wrinkle in Time, All of the Little House on the Prairie books. From the Dunbar Memorial Library, Dillon, SC, a very old house converted into a library, with creaky floorboards and pillars in front. The original building has since burned down and a smaller, modern building built.

Louise said...

Oh, your memories brought back my memories of my love affair with libraries. It happened that, each year, library day at school for my class was Wednesday. Six years of spending an enchanting Wednesday in the school library. No wonder I still have a special fondness for the day, one that has nothing to do with it being hump day.

Saturday was town library day. There was no restriction that I can remember in my town library about children and the adult section. So, I cruised happily between the YA section, and the Adult Section; between Elizabeth Goudge's "Little White Horse" and her adult novels, between "A Wrinkle in Time" and "Stranger in a Strange Land."

What wonderful memories!

Darla said...

A lovely journey down memory lane... :-)

Martin H. said...

I read a lot of books by Malcolm Saville.

Liz said...

My small town in PA had a beautiful library - I discovered Mazo de la Roche's "Whiteoaks of Jalna" - a series - after reading every biography I could get my hands on. The older I got the more books I borrowed from my mother - who always had the latest books reserved. There is nothing else like the smell of a library!!

NCmountainwoman said...

What memories you bring back. I also loved those orange biographies. When I was a child we lived out in the country and every week my mother would take me to the county library. The "old" library is still there although it is office space now.

Tammy said...

You brought back my fond memories of the library as well! Loved the grade school library, the high school library, our small but well stocked county library. When I discovered the library in the next county over I was thrilled to pieces. The hardest part were summers, when we only went to town once a week. I think we were limited to six books a week, which was a trial. The horse books and dog books were always my favorites, but I also enjoyed Phyllis Whitney's childrens mysteries. I also have went through several western phases. :-)

Mama-Bug said...

Libraries still are my favorite places to visit. As a child growing up, my nose was always in a book. I would read under the covers at night with a flashlight. To this day my favorite way to relax involves a good book and a comfy spot even on vacation. I love books!!!

jennyfreckles said...

I used to love our local library - would often visit twice at the weekend, and check out 6 books a time, twice! I don't think I did much but read when I was a kid. I adored Anne of Green Gables and all the Chalet School series.

Tess Kincaid said...

My very first "thick" book in second grade was "Ozma of Oz". I was so very proud of myself when I finally completed it. It did help that I was home for a week with chicken pox.

Vicki Lane said...

I see there are a lot of kindred spirits and library lovers out there -- like Bo, I'm sure my life would have been different without my love of reading.

June, we didn't have a bookmobile -- what fun that must have been!

Louise -- Elizabeth Goudge was and still is one of my favorites. And L'Engle and Heinlein too!

Martin -- I'm not familiar with Malcolm Saville but I suspect I would have loved the books -- shall see if I can find some.

Liz -- oh yes on the library smell! One of my good friends back in Tampa was a huge fan of the Jalna books. I read a few but wasn't that intrigued. I suspect that if I'd first met them as a teenager, I'd have loved them.

Mountainwoman -- And oh yes on the little orange books. My favorite was Sacajawea -- Bird Girl/

Tammy -- Yep, Phyllis Whitney was another of my favorites.(I had a lot of favorites, evidently.)

jennyfreckles -- I still have all the Anne books and reread them.
But I don't know the Chalet School series -- shall look for it.

Tess -- And I still have most of the Oz books! Do you remember Princess Languidere who had a cabinet of a hundred beautiful heads so she could change her looks whenever she felt like it?

Anonymous said...

Anne of Green Gables, read all the series that was available from age 9 to about 12. As an adult I ran across paperback of the final two books of the series that for some reason weren't available when I was a child. I was like a kid with a new toy, bought them immediately and followed Anne and Gilbert to their older days.

PBS later showed two miniseries based on the books. The first was extremely well cast and true to the books. Loved it. The second used only the characters, changed the era in which the books were set, and had nothing else to do with the books. Same great acting, but I hated the second series. It was even more of a 'betrayal' of the books since the first series had gone beyond my expectations.

Lynne in GA