My Hero, the Library
Jan 27, 2016
I’ve always felt the power of the library as a place. As a little girl, I had few books at home. That made the library seem magical! Where else could you crack open a book for free, take it home, bring it back, and get another one in its place? As a teenager, I discovered collections of VHS tapes and Harlequin romance novels. Don’t judge me! Even today I don’t keep a collection of books at home. I keep “my” books at the library for all to share. Reading and early literacy, as well as the books themselves, are inseparably linked to the library. These elements are puzzle pieces in one picture with the library at the center of it all.
You might ask, what exactly are you saying? What are the other pieces in this very mysterious puzzle? Why does the library play such an important role? Does the library really have the power to change lives? Consider the following five points.
- Children learn how to read by first developing pre-literacy skills. For children without access to books at home, these skills are developed as a result of services provided through the public library, whether it is through preschool programs or parents reading library books to their children. When children learn how to read, the result is intellectual growth that lasts a lifetime.
- When we use the library as a community hub, we connect with people and ideas. The result is social growth.
- The books we read are therapeutic, whether we read to escape or read to relate. For teens especially, access is important and may be nonexistent at home. Bibliotherapy is real. The result is emotional growth.
- When we learn basic skills, make connections, and are able to successfully navigate our struggles; all of these together result in economic growth for the individual and for society as a whole.
- The four points above are cyclical and chain reactive in nature, and interconnected in ways too many ways to list.
I didn’t fully understand the impact that the library had on me as a child nor how it would later become such a big part of who I am as a person. As an adult, I am awed. The library was by my side through it all-- laughing with Amelia Bedelia, wading through 3rd grade math, the financial struggles through college and grad school, and finally, the grief of divorce and losing a parent. When looking at my journey from a surface perspective, I simply learned how to read. I read about dinosaurs and mythology and people. And later, well you know, the Harlequins... But on a deeper level, I learned how to struggle. I learned that mistakes are just the beginning, grief is not the end, and that persistence is a character in my story. And all of this was learned with the help of the library, a powerful place within my heart apart from the buildings that hold the magic.