First Things

 Hardy County Public Library, 1966

This was my very first library.  When I was small, my mother would walk with me down tree-lined streets to this building (built on a 40′ x 60′ lot and designed to hold 6,000 volumes).  There I would sit on the floor in front of the picture books and be as happy as any child ever was.  I got my first library card here–a great milestone of maturity then because you had to be old enough to write your first AND last names.  (I practiced at home beforehand to be sure I would get it right.)

I still remember where things were shelved in my childhood library.  The picture books were under the big window to your left just inside the front door.  I knew exactly where to find my favorites, though it was a source of great frustration to me that Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree was placed in storage after the Christmas season was over.  (I would have to wait months before it reappeared–just like I waited for the Wizard of Oz to come on television every December.)

 Later I moved on to the chapter books–the first books I knew by author’s name not artist’s style–which were on the left wall of this tiny space.  There I could find books by Laura Lee Hope, and a collection of Disney stories with a green cover, and the D’Aulaire’s biography of Christopher Columbus with the picture of him holding an orange and pondering the shape of the world.  

We moved to suburbia after third grade, so I never got to explore beyond that front left quadrant of the Hardy County Public Library.  I’ve discovered some favorite spaces at other libraries since then, but none of them were as magical as the spot beneath the picture window with treasures before me and freedom to choose.

3 thoughts on “First Things

  1. Don’t forget McGuffey’s Readers , probably first editions on those shelves, and the Bobbsey Twins series. And I will forever see you curled up in Dad’s LaZBoy by the family room window devouring them, oblivious to the mundane that went on without you! (That little library might have issued you a ‘Gold Card’ if only they had known what you would grow up to be!)

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