The Downtown Library

My home from my youngest days has been Melbourne, Florida. One of the earliest memories I have is the downtown library, its tall stacks of books, the groaning of the shelves under the weight of its contents, the small children’s section, the wooden card catalog with its smooth cornered drawers and cards typed with the occasional smudged printing from the librarian’s Selectric. Story day was the best, and the two man-made lakes outside were the wonder of every child. We brought our last crumbled piece of bread with the plastic wrapper that held the original loaf - throwing it to the ducks and the geese as they surrounded us. We’d walk with mommy around the lake, crossing over the little wooden bridge that was between the two lakes. The sun shone every day we were at the library and a trip home with armfuls of books was our just reward for being quiet.

Years later, living in Orlando and overseas, when I’d visit, I’d go back to the old library. It expanded over time, adding a little extra room here and there. Other branches opened and the county budget increased - as did the fines for late returns. The employee staff grew - and the holiness of the librarian fell a bit. But, it served its purpose faithfully, providing me with years of reading, and the stacks never grew cold to me.

Having children is magical. For the magic they bring you, you search out bits of magic and bring it to them. The zoo. The road trip. The nature trail. And, of course, the old library.

I remember when we first started going to the library more frequently as my two oldest started reading. My boy and my girl are only 13 months apart, so when the library placed a small statue near the entrance of a boy and girl sharing some books, we appropriately named the parentless children after my children. But, other than the statue of my children, the magic grows dim these days.

The computers. My Lord, is there no respite from the clicking, the banal calls for the next user, the typing, typing, typing? The sanctity of the silence has been broken for years. It is only overshadowed by the gossipy talk of the employees and the clacking of the young girl raking through the CD collection.

The entrance also has its share of homeless men taking shade from the baking heat. The duck pond still has the ducks and the geese. Seagulls have now joined them. The bridge was destroyed when seagull droppings eventually deteriorated the planks and for a few years now, you just don’t walk between the lakes anymore.

I like to think we are all part of this building’s future. We are all here for the books. I like to think that. I did before and maybe we were all here before and maybe my children see only the magic. I hope.

Technorati : childhood, libraries, memories

Popularity: 6% [?]

Why not leave a comment below and continue the conversation, or subscribe to my feed and get articles like this delivered automatically to your feed reader. If you don't have a feed reader, I recommend using Google Reader to start. It's free and easy. Otherwise, you can always have these articles delivered to your email inbox every day. Click here to sign up.

No comments yet.

Leave a comment

Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>