I have a secret to share with you today. My three favorite places in the community are my home, my church and my library. Some of my fondest memories from my childhood all the way to present day occurred in libraries.

Over the years I’ve moved quite a few times and one of the first places I always acquaint myself with in a new town is the library. I’ve even been known to visit one while on vacation! As a PK (preacher’s kid), I spent many hours in church libraries, too. It was in one of these where I developed a fascination with centaurs and other mythical creatures and a love of fantasy books, thanks to books like Alpha Centauri by Robert Siegel.

I know how Belle must have felt.

I remember wandering around one library in particular when I was a child. To me it was a fortress filled with opportunities, exciting places, adventures. When I walked through those doors, I had the world at my fingertips. As an adult I still feel that way. I have to make a plan before I go in our library; otherwise, I’ll get wrapped up in the wonder of the multitudes of reading options and stand there with my mouth hanging open.

A library card gives the holder a golden ticket to explore every world and all of time and space.

I love the smell of a library—the smell of books. Opening a new book gives me feelings of contentment and of excitement. I know I am about to embark on a journey with that book. Perhaps it will transport me to a different realm or time. It may teach me something about myself through the characters the author created. I may learn new ideas, new facts, new information as I continue my pursuit of being a lifelong learner. Whatever that book holds between its covers for me, I know it will change me somehow.

Books—and the libraries that house them—make me who I am as a person, a wife, a mother, a teacher, a friend and a writer.

As an adult I have found a place to research and study in libraries. The library has allowed me to read more books than I ever could without that magical card. I have met kindred spirits in libraries, too, through a number of librarians I’ve had the privilege to know. The children’s librarian was one of my first friends when we moved to our current home. We were so sad when she retired, but we just got another amazing one to add to our long list of library friends.

The library builds community.

As a parent I’ve had many special opportunities with my children thanks to our library. After my first child was born, I took her to story time when she was six months old and met some of my first mom friends. That meeting led to play dates and sitting swaps. We shared the journey of motherhood with each other, and I found the road to recovery from postpartum depression.

We have had the most loving and caring children’s librarians. They always talk with my kids and ask them what they’re reading. They give them encouragement and praise for every completed reading challenge. Once, when my kids were still young, our children’s librarian took the time to explain to them where and how to find different books. She patiently explained fiction and non-fiction, the Dewey Decimal System and the computer catalog.

The library offers many free programs.

If you don’t know what all your library offers, you’ve GOT to check it out! Our library offers free programs all the time for kids and adults, and not just in the summer time. (Though, I did learn this year that summer reading challenges aren’t just for the kids!) They have story times and story crafts and book clubs for kids, with special programs for every age group from toddler through teens. They have special programs with authors, artists and musicians. For adults they have programs on using computers and computer programs, dancing and exercise classes, gardening instructions and so much more. They also have adult book clubs, and some branches have resources for book clubs. And, it’s all FREE!!

We’ve always been a family on a tight budget, so we haven’t done many activities with our kids because they’re way too expensive. But, we can always afford to participate in events at the library! Our kids have met authors, participated in impromptu drama programs, competed in LEGO events, petted a baby alligator, learned how to make bubbles and gotten cooking and gardening tips…and so much more! They even got to be on TV when they were little to talk about how much they love their library.

The library holds endless learning opportunities.

We homeschool, and one of the questions people sometimes ask me is about resources. Thanks to our library system, we are never lacking for anything! When I plan ahead in our curriculum, I can request any books we may need and pick them up at our closest library—even if they’re shelved at a library 45 minutes away. I’m pretty sure all the library workers know who we are, and—I hope—they like to see us coming. Although, when I check out 50-60 books at a time, that does give them a bit of a workout!

In addition to the thousands of books available to us, our library offers a host of online databases for further research and study. Thankfully we live in a very homeschool-friendly area and our libraries frequently offer special programs just for us. Last year our kids learned how to use the online databases. With all of these resources available for my kids to explore at any time, I don’t think we’re lacking a thing!

A library card offers a path to a world of learning, an education greater than any university program can give.

Our library remains one of my favorite places. It’s my happy place, a place full of magic. The library holds untold riches of knowledge that I can share with my children. No other place offers so much for every single person in a community. And, it’s all free!

 

What about you? Do you love your library? What are some of your fondest memories in a library? What are your favorite programs offered by your library?

Library Cards Give Readers a Golden Ticket: www.joyerancatore.com—Libraries house adventures galore, and library cards give golden tickets to explore every world and all of time and space.

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