Library as sanctuary — a place for the mind to be composed and vibrant. You could appreciate the smell and the hush. It was so dependable. You could really count on it. What could be better than wandering the stacks, searching for the perfect volume? Only curling up with a book in absolute concentration, neurons sparking wild. Thoughts and ideas abundant. A place you feel at home.
Library as classroom. You want to show your children the magic of this place, but they don’t understand yet. They play and you try to read but are interrupted by a thousand cries for MOM! Still, you enjoy those brief moments when you can read a sentence or two because it is more than you could expect to read at home. Story times and activities, board book after board book that gets stomped on or thrown across the room, bathroom visits, and small talk with moms who think you’re weird. Trying to take the child into the stacks with you — wanting a few minutes of that old wandering and searching — but your toddler is pulling books off the shelves and banging on the step stools and laying on the floor screaming. You get scowls and sulk back to the children’s room. You find yourself jealous of the 13 year old girl who passes you with a small, compassionate smile. She seem to understand a bit. She has all the time in the world to wander and read and you hope that she claims all the time she can before life takes too much of a hold. You were that girl, and you know you will be that girl again, someday. But now, you are just trying to jot down a few notes and your 2-year-old is tugging at you, “PEN PLEASE PEN PLEASE PEN PLEASE”. You know you should appreciate how little the kids are. You know it goes too fast. You feel guilty for wanting the time to yourself even though you haven’t had an hour alone for years. You fondly remember story time when you were a child, sitting on the little carpet mats in the basement of the tiny library, your friend’s mom is reading a book and it is very important to be quiet and listen. You didn’t understand then but there was an impression.
The impression affected you to your core.
This thought makes you feel better. The library magic is working under the surface. Because, of course, the library is dependable like that.