Calling all Library Kids
I run a weekly Zoom for writers to reconnect to their creative selves and hold each other accountable to their writing goals, and today I asked a questions that caused such an outburst of joy that I thought I’d share it to the universe.
We can all, after all, use more joy.
The question was this: were you a library kid?
Now before you tell me that you were a sports kid or a theater kid or an art room kid — remember that I was on a zoom with only writers. Here’s what happened: mouths tipped up, cheeks reddened, eyes smiled. Breath grew fast and shallow. Voices raised into an excited pitch. The natural introverts blended with the natural extroverts in their eagerness to relate their own sense memory of flipping through the soft manilla cards in the card catalogue with its many arcane and skinny drawers — everyone on the zoom had fond memories connected to libraries.
When I was little, I lived far out in the country, so there weren’t a lot of kids to play with, and summer was boring and so hot and humid you would stick to vinyl chairs and burn yourself on metal slides. I used to be allowed to check out only as many books as I could hold. I still remember the sense-memory of carrying twenty books piled in a tall stack with my chin holding the top one steady — all the way across the hot Texas summer humidity to the car. And then usually finishing the first book before we got home.
Then three weeks later, running through the air-conditioned stacks to see if anyone had returned the Agatha Christie books I hadn’t yet read.
We were from all over the country, now living in places from suburban to rural to those with country homes and city lofts; some were stuck in their careers, some had lost jobs or left them, some were divorced some married, all were in some kind of personal turmoil whether personal or political, weather-related or war-related — yet all on that zoom experienced a momentary (if fleeting) joy in remembering the comfort and unlimited possibility we had felt as kids in the library.
Library kids know how the Dewey Decimal system works.
Library kids know what it feels like to run out of books by a favorite author.