By Stacey S.
When I was growing up, I had two big obstacles – my public school library was tiny and not well-funded and I did not have a lot of friends. I remedied both of these by spending as much time as I possibly could at my town’s public library. Starting downstairs in the children’s library, I spent so much time there that I was asked if I wanted to volunteer to re-shelve books. You would have thought I had been offered a shopping spree at a candy store, the way I reacted. I would spend most afternoons tasked with putting away one cart of books, and it would take me all afternoon – I would not merely re-shelve, but I would skim if not outright read every book before I put it back. The library was my best friend and where I turned when I was sad or lonely – there was always a good story to lose myself in, there.
As I grew older, I moved upstairs to the “big” library which also housed the reference library. Again, whole new worlds were opened to me, as I would pour over tomes of historical facts and lists of periodicals I had never heard of. This was pre-internet, so “surfing” involved sitting at a huge table with a stack of encyclopedias and other reference materials strewn around you. I started taking notes for myself – things to look into later, specific titles to be sure to read, and questions. It was the questions that would lead to further investigations. They were the sort of questions you might ask a best friend, except I was looking to the library for answers – what are people wearing next season? Is the “G Spot” a real thing? Why does my father look sad when I ask about the Vietnam War? All this and more was answered during my long afternoons at the public library, for which I am eternally grateful.