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?