Monday, September 17, 2012

Little Shelver And The Magical Library

Liō is the property of Mark Tatulli, and is a fantastic comic strip.
Like most people, I don't remember a lot about being really little. Even things I think I remember usually turn out to be false memories cobbled from old photo albums. But for all the gaps in my memory, I do remember going to the library with my mom.

When I was little, we would go to the library with the owls in the rafters. Sometimes they were there, sometimes they weren't, but it was always such a thrill to peer up into the shadows and see those fuzzy little creatures snoozing on the beam above the door. After looking for the owls, my mom and I would go inside, bag in hand, ready to snoop out new adventures.

I'm sure my mom kept an eye on me the entire time, but I remember going down each row, checking each shelf for a fun book. Sometimes, my mom would help me use the computer to find a specific book, but not always. The library was the first place where I started to notice the names of the people who wrote the books that I loved. Eric Hill's Spot books, H.A. Rey's Curious George, and all things Dr. Seuss and Patricia Polacco were special favorites. I knew exactly where to find each of those authors in my section and carefully checked to make sure I wasn't missing any of their new books.

Then, one glorious day, my mom decided it was time I get a library card. Actually, I think I remember begging vigorously, the same way I had when I'd wanted to learn to read. So, at the age of five, I went to the front desk and hid behind my mom as she asked for a library card. My mom signed the back and then put my name in parentheses. (You're not allowed your own library card for real until you're 12, much to my dismay.)

I still have that card. It's yellowed and faded, but it's mine. Before I started working at the bookstore, the library was the place to be. We went every two to four weeks to grab a fresh batch of books. I would troll each row as methodically as I had when I was five, scanning the titles for something new. That's how I found Megan Whalen Turner's The Thief, my favorite book of all time. That's how I found most of my favorite books, actually. And once I was done gathering my books (never more than fifty, as I found out after I hit the regulated limit), I would carry the bag to the counter and place my new books in a neat stack with my faded library card on top.

The library is a place of adventure. It's a place of learning and growth. It's a magical place where one little rectangular piece of plastic is the key to other worlds. Libraries, to be frank, are fantastic.

What's your first library-related memory? How long have you had your card?

You can find the rest of the Lio library series at GoComics (it ran 9/3-9/7/12).