I love libraries, those magical places where books of all shapes, colors, sizes, smells and topics march smartly along the shelves. Big libraries and little libraries, but my favorite is Fairfield's branch on Wortz Street. Plans are underway to move the Fairfield library to the new Carroll Valley building once it is built since the current location is small. I understand, but it makes me sad. I feel so pampered having our little library just a hop, skip, and a jump away.
The library was an immediate bright spot for me when we moved from our old stone house on Mt. Carmel Rd. Being able to walk to the library never ceases to bring me joy., especially since I don't drive much anymore. There's something magical about being able to slip up to the library any time I want just to browse the shelves, return a book, or say hello. I love having everything in one room, walking up to the desk and asking Sherry or Crystal (two of the best) to order a book knowing that within a few days it will be waiting for me. In the meantime, I go home with an armful of books. Once I asked for a book which wasn't available anywhere in Pennsylvania but Sherry looked until she found one in the Duke Library for me!
I love books. I have a Kindle which is much easier to use when I go to Wellspan to exercise, but that flat plastic thing isn't a real book. Plastic cannot replace the feel of paper, the rustle of turned pages, savoring full page illustrations, flipping pages back and forth to reread a passage, greedily reading knowing my book's battery will never run down.
Libraries are precious repositories of knowledge that connect us to our past and point us toward our future in far more personal ways than the reading something on a computer screen. Libraries bring people together. Libraries have chairs where one can sit and read or research. When I am in the library, I love scanning the cover's synopsis and reading several pages to decide if I like the author's style of writing or if it will challenge or inspire m. When greeting other library lovers who are reading magazines or working on the computers all seems right with the world.
Our kids grew up on books. A trip to the library or library story time was magical for them just as it is for me. Of course, books were such a sacred part of our bed time routine that our kids wanted to be read too even when they were in middle school. When the library had their annual book sale we'd buy our own copies of beloved books so we could reread them. Recently, our daughter walked in the door with a goofy grin on her face. “Look what I found.” she chortled as she dumped a collection of old much loved books on the sofa. “Read to me, Mom. “ So the two of us curled up on the loveseat, arms around each other like the old days, slowly turning pages , savoring the illustrations, we turned back the clock as we fell into the wishes and whimsy of Dr. Suess and other much loved favorites.
Joyce Shutt is pastor emeritus of the Fairfield Mennonite Church