By Andrew D.
I can distinctly remember my first visit to the public library. As a part of Mrs. Chardoul’s first grade class, we took a field trip to the East Grand Rapids Public Library, and everyone got their own library cards. (I continued to use that same card well into my 20s.)
While EGRPL is a small-town library, there is something inherently magical about it. Nestled on the shores of Reeds Lake, the glimmer on the water added movement to the walls through the windows. It made our imaginations dance beyond the words of the books. It was the hub of our community. It was where we walked to or from on our way to get ice cream at Jersey Junction (just down the street). It was there on the library’s roof where we would sit as the 4th of July fireworks were displayed over the lake. It was a respite for us young bibliophiles who couldn’t find a backpack big enough (or a bike on which to balance) to carry our collection home with us.
I’m 33 now, and I have three young kids of my own, and I’m finding myself falling in love with the library all over again. The love was never lost, it is just enhanced by experiencing it through the excited eyes of my children. Making me nostalgic and envious of their youthful wonder, I watch them partake in a baby sign-language class at our home library of Bloomfield Township Public Library. I watch them sit in enthrallment during the Library’s Mother Goose club, and I laugh as they tackle the stuffed Elmo as we walk in. We can’t even drive by the library without panicked cries of ‘please! please!’ from our back seat (accompanied by the correct sign language for ‘please’ that they learned in their sign language class).
While the landscape of our communities invariably change year after year, our libraries remain a comforting constant. Sure, programming, technology, and outreach changes, but the impact on the community only grows, and for that I am forever grateful.