2.23.2007

Handle It With Care


In thinking of childhood and Kellogg I have one place that still holds vivid memories and allows me to bring the sights and sounds to mind as if I visited there yesterday. That place was the Kellogg Public Library. As a young child I always had books at home. The first book I had learned to read The Fly Went By had been recited to my dad at least 100 times ( at least that was his story!). I was ready to move on to more books, thus resulting in a visit to the library. The first library was a small building up the street from Dick and Floyds. Getting my first library card stands out in my mind. The librarian was very stern about the rules. Only so many books could be checked out, your handwriting had to be neat on the card, they needed to be returned in two weeks, and the books needed to be handled with care. I listened intently knowing that checking out books was the motivation for me to always follow the rules. The first book I checked out was The Wooden Doll. The book seemed antique with old-fashioned illustrations and a sweet story.
The opening of the new library was a pivotal event in my young life. It seemed so modern and spacious. I remember being greeted by the librarians at a bigger counter. Big windows, natural sunlight, and many more books created a safe haven that I eagerly visited, continuing my passion for books and reading. Beginning in childhood and continuing as an adult, I enjoyed moving through books in a series. I relished examining order of the titles in the front pages of the book. Setting a plan for moving through the series was my next step. In the far corner of the Kellogg Public library juvenile section were all the Happy Hollister books. After our family moved down to Cameron Avenue I would go to the library many Saturdays. As a younger reader I would check out three red-covered Happy Hollister books each week. I looking forward to immersing myself in a new adventure with the siblings in this family. I traveled with them to the seashore, Snowflake Camp, and the Skyscraper City. We solved mysteries about Indians, cuckoo clocks, and treasures. This family seemed to be more spirited than the Bobbsey Twins. I related to them much more than the characters in Alcott’s Little Women series.
Maturing as a reader, I next moved to the Nancy Drew mysteries. They were one shelf over in that corner of the library. The early books were a blue color, like The Secret of the Old Clock. The books with bright yellow covers and pictures of Nancy were published next. As I rapidly moved through the whole series, I was always thrilled when the librarian informed me that a new book had arrived. I remember thinking to myself, ”Carolyn Keene must be the busiest author ever.”
Meeting Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, new characters in The Wizard of Oz series, and Encyclopedia Brown happened when I continued through this genre. When I read a series there was something to look forward to. Was the newest edition at the library? Did somebody else check out the book I wanted? Was the newest edition going to keep my interest and attention? I liked already knowing the characters. I also liked marveling at how an author could create yet another exciting mystery to be solved. What would Nancy do this time?
At some point I moved across the room to the nonfiction section and a group of biographies grabbed my interest. I think they were called Signature Biographies. Embarking on the series introduced me to Helen Keller. Maybe the interest in this book coincided with the movie “The Miracle Worker”. For years I was obsessed with Helen Keller and later did a research paper on her in high school. When I read the Clara Barton biography I wanted to be a nurse. I remember Lewis and Clark, Abraham Lincoln, and Thomas Alva Edison as inspirational figures also.
When I visit the school library with my students just a cover, name, or color of a book will take me back to those Saturdays at the Kellogg Public Library. I found comfort in the sense of order the library provided. I also relished the quiet. I loved the feel of the books and the pencils lined up at the counter as you signed your name on the card. It was definitely a safe haven. There was always a sense of anticipation as I carefully carried my three books out of the library. It created a routine in my life. I knew the rules for borrowing books. Furthermore, I knew the books would take me to a new world that I could explore in the privacy of my own bedroom as I spent a few hours taking a trip with the Happy Hollisters or solving an intriguing mystery with Nancy Drew.
Last year I was at the desk at the Kettle Falls Public Library. I had four books and couldn’t decide which one to return. The librarian laughed good-naturedly and replied, “You can take as many books as you want! You aren’t limited to three”. I smiled to myself and felt giddy. It never occurred to me to ask. As I carried out four books I checked my computerized due date slip. I realized I also got to keep them longer.
That first day at the Kellogg Public Library I learned an important lesson that I have carried with me to this day. Every time I check out a book at the library, I handle it with care.

1 comment :

  1. I remember feeling the same way when the "new" athol library was built.

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