When in doubt, go to the library could have been the motto for my teenage years. My school and local libraries gave me a place to hang out during lunch and after school, a seemingly endless supply of new reading material, and even an extra resource for difficult homework assignments or hobbies I was teaching myself.
Even now, living across the country from my “home” library, I use the OverDrive app at least once a week to scroll through the catalogue and check out Kindle books. That said, I’m aware that not everyone has access to a local or campus library, and that not all libraries are equally well maintained; the inequality of access and resources is definitely a systemic issue that needs to be addressed.
However, National Library Week (April 7 – 13) is about honoring the contributions that libraries make to so many lives, my own included. In fact, this year’s theme is Libraries = Strong Communities:
today’s libraries are at the heart of our cities, towns, schools and campuses, providing critical resources, programs and expertise. They also provide a public space where all community members, regardless of age, culture or income level, can come together to connect and learn.
– The American Library Association (ALA)
Since it’s currently also National Poetry Month, I figured, what better way to pay tribute than with an ode? (My local library holds a poetry competition every April so this seemed extra fitting even if I’m no longer eligible to enter.) For all the poetry I wrote for English/language arts classes I don’t think I’ve ever tried an ode, so this is also a writing exercise
since I haven’t touched my Camp NaNo project in a few days because exams suck!
Shelves and shelves and shelves of colorful tomes
Each with words, paragraphs, pages building a world to explore
Gently pulled out, leafed through, returned to their homes
At the end of the day once patrons are out the door.
I never did figure out how the Dewey decimal system works,
But alphabetization’s easy enough to remember
When you’re walking down the aisles
Trying to find where your favorite author lurks;
Passing tables and carts with books in piles
Before giving up and asking a friendly staff member.
I’ve volunteered here, gotten to see behind the scenes:
Helped fix labels, design displays, organize inventory,
Staffed book sales and events for children, adults, and teens,
Savoring the chance to be part of others’ life story.
Every week I bring home another tall stack,
Devouring novels after homework, between classes, before bed
Has long since become the highlight of each day —
It’s time, not reading material, that I desperately lack
When there’s TV to watch and friends want to play
But who needs to sleep or socialize when you could read instead?
It’s not just books; they’ve games, panels, classes,
Pretty bookmarks, snacks for sale, donation drives;
You can take pretty photos outside where the grass is,
And someday when you’re famous they’ll be saved in the archives.
They love local creators, nurturing us as we grow,
With resources, moral support, a safe space to hang out
Open long hours every day of the week.
The librarians are here to listen to your tales of joy or woe,
Or just to help you find the materials you seek,
Because strengthening the community is what the library is all about.
Are there any resources or services that you think all public libraries should offer? Do you also have fond memories of your local library, if you had access to one?