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The Public Library is Priceless

November 12, 2018

I just finished reading Medium writer Katie Hyson’s post titled “The Library Was the Place Where I Could Always Get More”.  As I read the post I thought of my childhood, my late wife, my two daughters, my grandchildren…. and my wife and her grandchildren. While none of us experienced the kind of austerity Ms. Hyson described, we ALL loved reading and could not begin to afford the cost of the books necessary to provide us with the desire to learn more and expand our horizons.

Growing up, my mother would take us to the library once a week in the summer to get a stack of books to read during the heat of the afternoon in Tulsa OK. I have fond memories of plowing through Dr. Doolittle, all of the Landmark books, Sherlock Holmes, and Edgar Allen Poe during my late elementary school years. Later, I spent many hours at the library of West Chester State College (as it was called then) that was blocks away from my house when I was in high school.

My late wife’s favorite after school haunt was the West Chester public library where she could study in quiet solitude. As a result of my late wife’s frequent reminiscences of her afternoons among the stacks, my older daughter was married at that library to honor her mother and feel her presence.

My daughters, as a result of their parents’ experiences, had library cards from the time they could hold a book. My older daughter was and is an avid reader of every kind of genre. My younger daughter, like Katie Hyson, not only read stacks of books from libraries, but has seen her own book on the shelves of libraries across the country and her short stories published in several literary magazines.

My grandchildren love to go to our local library whenever they visit and whenever we visit them they have stacks of books they’ve checked out of their local libraries in Brooklyn for us to read to them.

My wife recounts stories of library visits with her children when she was raising them in rural Vermont. She and I frequent our local library seeking out book-tapes we can listen to on drives to visit our grandchildren or to various getaways and we both read for pleasure and gaining a deeper understanding of our place in the world.

And my wife’s grandchildren, like mine, enjoy visits to our local library when they come to spend the night, checking out stacks of books for us to read to them and want us to read a story to them before they go to bed.

As I write this, I find it hard to imagine NOT taking advantage of the local library, even in this age of electronic media. Our local library has added new means of accessing written material, videos, and recorded book-tapes (as I refer to them with my “old-fashioned” terminology). Our library also sponsors book groups, speakers on timely issues, and offers free meeting space for local non-profits, including the public schools. We (I am now on the Board of the local library) are about to launch a partnership with our local high school to provide a maker-space and have all kinds of outreach programs in place to connect with all age groups. The bottom line: the public library remains one place where the doors are open to all and where the playing field is completely level. If you ever come to Hanover NH, stop by our local library… but better yet, go to the library in your neighborhood or town and see what they have for you, your children, or your grandchildren. You might be amazed!


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