Okay JauntyFriends, it’s confession time. Last year, I published a Mustang Ridge novella about a (sexy, smart aleck) tech-savvy contractor who came into town to update the local library and wound up butting heads (and other things) with the (vibrant, headstrong) vintage store owner who wanted everything to stay the way it had always been. I loved the characters, loved the story, and loved the idea of a library that had seen better days getting a facelift that would keep it at the center of the small-but-growing town of Three Ridges.
So what’s the confession? Until a few months ago, I hadn’t been inside a public library since childhood. Junior high, maybe? High school?
I had fond memories, mind you. There was the big library my parents would take me to when I was very little. I can still picture where the Billy and Blaze books were shelved, still feel the excitement of checking out a microscope–an actual microscope, with glass slides and everything–for two weeks of examining everything from onion skins and pond water to the dust from under my bed. Then there was the library closer to our house, where my mom had to give permission for me to check out Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt books from the grown-up floor. And over the years, those slow-footed travels up and down the aisles to see what was new, what I hadn’t yet read.
I remember the smell of those libraries, the quiet, the fun of discovering a new author or book. But somewhere along the way, I got out of the habit. At first it was because college and grad school made libraries feel like work. Later, it was because I wanted to support my writer friends by buying their books. More recently, it was because … well, just because.
And then along came Wallaby, and the realizations that: a) board books are expensive; and b) board books can become bored books very quickly. So why not borrow instead of buying? As a bonus, I had become friends with one of our local librarians (shout out, Cathleen C!), who hosted a romance book club at the library and went on to join me and author-friend Gail Chianese (shout out, Gail!) at our local RWA chapter. As a more-or-less-well-disguised introvert, it helps when I know someone.
So off we went one morning to the big public library in the town next to ours, where we discovered (in no particular order, but lots of enthusiastic squeals): Trains! Puzzles (or ‘Puzz’)! Row-row (a toy boat)! Story hour! Baby art! Computer stations with toddler-friendly educational programs! Lots of super nice librarians! And, hey, BOOKS!
Suffice it to say that I’ve come back around full circle to being a huge library fan as I make wonderful new memories with my kiddo, much like the heroine of Starting Over at Mustang Ridge. And the other morning, when I asked almost year-and-a-half-old Wallaby whether he wanted to go to the library or playground, expecting an answer of either ‘Slides!’ or ‘Trains!’ he said loud and clear, ‘Li-brerry.’ And when he got there, he bypassed the trains to pick out his three new board books before doing anything else.
Thus, we hope, a new reader–and library user–emerges.
How about you? Did you haunt the library as a child? Did you visit one with your kids? Do you have one you love, or a favorite librarian you’d like to give a shout out? Tell us about them!