This fall, I came across an article from The New York Times Book Review, “12 Authors Write about the Libraries They Love.” Considering the intersection between my love of writing and my career goal of becoming a youth services librarian, I couldn’t resist writing about the libraries in my life and my love of them. It’s only more fitting that I make this post as National Library Week comes to an end.
From my most newly loved library to my childhood library, these spaces matter to me.
The Camp Kawanhee Library
In the summer of 2018, I worked at Camp Kawanhee for Boys in Weld, Maine. Located in the rec hall in the center of camp, the library occupies a small space but provides an important place for campers to play games or enjoy a little quiet time with a book. Because of the ridiculous amount of odd-jobs I picked up at camp over the course of the summer, I didn’t get to spend a ton of time in the library, but I did get to help run a story night, where we built a fire and invited campers to come and listen to their counselors read stories. In the camp library, I also found the opportunity to return to some of my favorite books from childhood. I reread several middle school favorites such as The Guardians of Ga’hoole and The Warriors series by Erin Hunter. I remember reading both of these series for the first time in my elementary school and middle school libraries. I fell in love with camp while I was there this summer, and it was fun to find a library in that space
The Library of Congress
Of course, I have to mention the Library of Congress. I interned in the Young Readers Center at the LOC in the summer of 2017 (I’ve had two great summer jobs) and spent every day in the hallways of the Thomas Jefferson building. The LOC is massive, and I got the chance to see the stacks, tour the science and business reading room, and learn about the inner-workings of our nation’s largest library. I spent most of my time in the YRC’s three rooms, shelving books, working on projects, and interacting with visitors. I could talk forever about just how incredible this experience was. Some of my favorite moments from the library were those when I wasn’t working. I spent several evenings in the main reading room, soaking in the beauty and doing research. It was spending a summer in the Library of Congress that made me realize that I really do want to be a librarian, and for that I am eternally grateful.
The West End Interim Library
As much fun as working in the LOC was, as an academic research library, I couldn’t exactly take the books I was using out of the main reading room, so I needed a place to checkout something to read on my commute to and from work. So, my DC public library was the West End Interim Library, a small branch library located on the ground floor of the Watergate complex. The YA section wasn’t much bigger than my public library’s in small town Kansas, but I was still able to find some great reads to keep my attention on the metro. The interim library was the nearest location to me as DC Public Libraries was constructing a new West End Library that is now open and looks super swanky. My most notable public library read from the summer of 2017 was “And I Darken” by Kristen White. Another fun fact: I set off the security sensors while leaving the LOC several times with public library books. The security guards were definitely appreciative of me, my coworkers just laughed.
The Manhattan Public Library
One of the first things I did when I started college at Kansas State University in the fall of 2015 was to get my library card at the Manhattan Public Library. One of the saddest things about my college career is that I haven’t used the public library as much as I could have. Sure, I would check out a couple of books and read them each semester, but until the fall of 2018, I’ve never really be an avid patron of the MHPL. Part of the problem here is that my freshman year of college was when I got into buying books rather than checking them out. I’ve taken home tubs and tubs of books at various school holidays that I purchased to fulfill my reading addiction. This semester though, I’ve gotten to use the MHPL both for fiction and non-fiction titles. I started using the library to read non-fiction titles that I knew I didn’t necessarily want to purchase, but I’m also trying to be a little thriftier as I start to gear up for grad school. The MHPL is a great spot, and I’m glad that I’ve started to use it more.
RIP Hale. This beautiful library was (and still is) like a castle, and is reminiscent of Hogwarts, especially in the winter. My favorite place to read in Hale Library was The Great Room, which is colloquially referred to on campus as the “Harry Potter Room.” Hale was my first true academic library experience, and I’m glad to have had it. Hale experienced a fire on May 22, 2018 so I won’t have another chance to read there before I graduate, but it’s still one of my favorite spaces. Additionally, I have to shout out K-State Libraries for teaching me of the wonder that is Interlibrary Loan.
Scott County Public Schools Libraries
I would be remiss in my conversation about libraries if I skipped over my school libraries. I’m grateful for my education in USD 466, and libraries were a big part of that. I was given free reign over books and allowed to read far above my reading level. One of my best friends and I first met as reading buddies when I was a third-grader and she was a fourth-grader. When I was in first-grade my teacher wouldn’t let me check out seven chapter books, and I remember being enraged at the time. I first read Harry Potter in my elementary school library. In middle school, I was constantly leaving class during silent-reading to go check out another book, even though that wasn’t something I was necessarily supposed to do.
My mom was a middle school teacher for several years and I went through the library one day when I was working in her classroom with her and made a list of forgotten favorites I’d read between the ages of 10 and 13. In high school, I used the library less just because I was pretty heavily reading from the public library and on my kindle at that point (for about three years I was a heavy eBook connoisseur). Even then, I can remember impactful reading experiences. The first book that I remember actually crying at the end of, Feed by Mira Grant, I checked out from my high school library as a freshman. School libraries provide such a beneficial service to students, and I am thankful for the libraries and the librarians I had access to during my K-12 education.
The Scott County Public Library
My favorite library, now and probably forever, is the Scott County Public Library. This is the library where I went to story time, got my first library card, and spent ridiculous amounts of time checking out books. I’ve got a lot of stories from the small-town library where I fell in love with reading. One of my favorite library stories is that I used my library card as a bookmark and accidentally left it inside a book when I was about 8 or 9. A couple of years later I went back to reread the same book, and my library card fell out of it into my lap. I proceeded to lose it again less than a year later, but for a short time I had my library card again. It didn’t matter though, that I’d lost my physical library card because every single librarian at the library knew my name and would easily pull me up in the computer system, sometimes before I’d even reached the circulation desk.
I’ve got 12 years of summer reading and Teen Book Club experience under my belt, because I always felt so at home in the library. I spent the summer after I graduated from high school volunteering for summer reading programs. I long joked as a kid that being a librarian would be the best job ever, and now that I’m looking towards starting library school in the fall of 2019, I know that I wouldn’t have the opinions and memories I do of libraries and librarianship without the Scott County Public library. The library is a special place, one that I would go to with my family, ride my bike to in the summer, and drive to when I got old enough. Even after I went off to college, I would visit the library and check out books over break. It was like I had never left. My parents moved away from Scott City this past fall, but I was using the Scott County Public Library until the last possible moment. A library can be a home if we let it, and that library felt like home to me.
I’d love to hear about the libraries that you love! Share them with me