The library I frequented as a child no longer exists, but its influence on my life continues. I still remember the way the place made me feel - awed by the sheer amount of information in one building, delighted by the prospect of discovering something new, proud to be let loose among the stacks for as long as my mom wanted to stay (which was usually quite a while). I remember the delicious woodsy scent of the books, like a forest of knowledge in which I could get lost. I still remember a few of the books I first discovered in that library and how they made me feel. Libraries are cradles of delight for children just discovering the world.
My mom was a voracious reader, and an English teacher, so we were always surrounded by books and expected to read for entertainment. Perhaps the fact of libraries alone - the sheer availability of books to borrow - doesn't make readers, but children learn the value of reading by seeing it valued in their home and their community, and, of course, by being read to enthusiastically and often. Libraries can certainly facilitate and feed a reading habit.
Throughout my youth and young adulthood, I spent a great deal of time in libraries, from school libraries to university libraries to the city libraries wherever I found myself on my adventures. Each one offered something new and shaped my interest in different subjects that steered my choices in life. Libraries have fueled my love of learning.
O and I frequent our neighborhood library and the main branch to check out stacks of books every couple of weeks. I hope that when he walks into the library with me, he feels that same eager anticipation of discovery. I hope our libraries are shaping his growing awareness of the vastness of human knowledge and, in turn, his interest in contributing to it.