I love libraries. I owe libraries so much. They were my favorite destination when I was a kid. Every Tuesday, I'd wait impatiently for Mom to take all of us to the Carnegie Library in Livermore that evening after she got home from work. There I'd race through the bottom floor and run up the stairs to the second floor, all the way to the far corner where the children's books were. There's I'd zone in on the horse books like Walter Farley's THE BLACK STALLION and Marguerite Henry's MISTY OF CHINCOTEAGUE.
Later in life, libraries became a haven where I'd go to escape the drama unfolding at home or when I needed to forget my own troubles when I was out on my own. The school library, the town library, the community college library, all became places of both dreams and of refuge.
Much later, they became a necessary place where I found many a book I needed for research. If I was working on a school project, and I didn't know where to look, or even what to look for, I'd have to approach that intimidating person, The Research Librarian, where I'd end up just blurting out that I had no idea what I was really looking for. Somehow she always managed to figure it out for me. Once the Internet came into being, when the local branch didn't have the book I needed, I could order it via the Internet and miraculously it would show up at my branch within a few weeks.
A few years ago I got out of the habit of thinking of the library as a place to find books. That was partly due to the fact that my local library, a City of Los Angeles branch, was a terrible place. It smelled of urine, had an appalling low number of books and was a haven for transients who dominated the chairs and desks. Of course, for the most part they were harmless and I felt sorry for them, but they were still distracting. So I quit going. There was a very nice library up in the Palos Verdes area, but it was somewhat of a drive. I ended up getting in the habit of buying books on amazon.
Now I'm lucky enough to be in a city that has a wonderful, large library that is part of the County, not City, of Los Angeles Library System. I can order books from the county library system and it will arrive within days at my local branch. When I move, the area where I will live will, thankfully, be in the County system as well.
Here are the books I checked out tonight:
The Time It Never Rained by Elmer Kelton. Doubleday Edition, 1973. This is the book that Kelton writes so lovingly about in his memoir, Sandhills Boy.
Safe at Home: Confessions of a Baseball Fanatic by Alyssa Milano, 2009. Milano, you might remember, was a child star who starred in the TV show Who's The Boss. I didn't know until recently that she is a dedicated baseball nut, a loyal Dodger fan, and knows enough about the game to write this book. It came highly recommended by a friend who is both a voracious reader and a Dodger fan.
Raymond Chandler: Collected Stories. Borzoi, 2002. I've seen this book before at the library and decided to take the leap tonight. It's a thick book, but even if I only get around to reading a few stories, I'll still be ahead of the game.
I encourage everyone to visit their local library. They are the quiet heroes of our community and many times they don't get the credit they deserve for the positive impact they have on our lives.
Above photo credit: celebratecanada.wordpress.com