Library Card

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“A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life.”
Henry Ward Beecher

I place my selections on the high formica countertop then fumble for my library card. I pull out a tattered and peeling faded orange card. The edges are frayed. The number is barely readable. The librarian attempts to flatten the card then scan…flatten…smooth…try to scan again…it goes on this way for a few moments. When she finally gives up out of frustration, she types in the long code of numbers which is so linked to my very body and soul. After this somewhat lengthy process, she inquires if she might give me a new library card? No! Absolutely not. Mine has character. And when I pull it out it announces that I, Paris Woodhull, am head-over-heels infatuated with the Lawson McGhee library in Knoxville, Tennessee. Of course I don’t say this, but I politely decline the offer.

I remember quite clearly the day I got my first library card. In order to check books out, I had to be able to write my own name. So I walked into the downtown cement castle of books, asked for a card and signed my name in a wobbly script. With books piled high in my arms, I walked out of the library feeling like I was now a “big girl.”

The library is the epitome of love and community. It’s where sharing begins. The library demonstrates that by sharing, things multiply.

I love the faces that I see when I enter the library, all the librarians I’ve known since the beginning, all the readers, even the homeless who rest from their struggles. I love being surrounded by readers. It gives me a sense of warmth and hope.

Sounds. Words. The smell of books and old carpeting. I love to check out a book and find the cover worn or ripped…perhaps several dog-eared pages or underlined fragments. Someone before me spent time with that same book. Carried it back to their home. Perhaps they made a cup of tea. Maybe Apricot, their cat, came and snuggled on their belly as they cracked open the book that I’m now grasping. Those impressions on the book show thought and make me feel that somewhere in the world there are still people who enjoy the library as much as I do.

I think the library is the most romantic place to be. It’s real. It’s solid. And it will never leave my side.

paris

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7 thoughts on “Library Card

  1. Denis Fogo says:

    I bought a used book online that had been removed from circulation at the New York City Public Library. Inside I found a ticket stub used as a bookmark. The ticket was for a performance of “Madame Butterfly” at the Met.

  2. aamontgomery says:

    Paris Dear, I love that you refer to the library as the “downtown cement castle of books”! I have always felt great serenity in libraries, but most especially the South Knoxville branch library where I would go as a child. I loved the distinct smell of books, the plastic on the book protector covers, and the cool air conditioning like stepping into the inner sanctum of forever.

    When I was five or six, I entered the summer reading program and read the most books of any kid that summer. Daddy proudly told that story for many years!

    I love books and have spent most of my life there in one way or another. Maybe I should get my master’s in library science so I can truly live in one. Or maybe not. But I love your post. Thanks for sharing your Paris thoughts!

    • Oh sweet Anna I adore hearing stories such as those! I hope REAL, solid, touchable books never go out of style. Books are so vital to our world. Stories are our oxygen. Thank you so much for your words of encouragement. You make people want to be the best version of themselves. Keep up the good work on your blog!

  3. Lola Alapo says:

    Ah! Girl after my own heart. As a kid, I spent the summers in my NYC public library reading my way through just about every child and then young adult collection there. As an adult, books are still very much my friends. My favorite pasttime is reading. I often tell friends that reading is better than watching television. It’s like watching a movie but it’s all in your head. I love that books power our imagination. As much as technology has enabled us to read electronically, that still doesn’t beat the smell and feel of physical book as you crack it open. Oh, the anticipation!

  4. I love this. My local library has a roof in the shape of half an open book and I can sit up there in the reading room with the light coming in through the high windows and a vivid sensation that I am getting into the text. Love libraries.

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