Ode to Libraries

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 β€”
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?


19 thoughts on “Ode to Libraries

  1. I was so happy to see everyone mentioning Library week, but this has to be the absolutely sweetest post about libraries I have ever read. Thanks so much for sharing that lovely poem, and now I’m like ‘please share more poems’ lol

    My library back in Texas had the BEST kid programs, one of my fave ones was that I could take my daughter to go read to a therapy dog, this way children who were having issues reading wouldn’t feel self-conscious. Here our library is also a local coffee shop, museum, and our art gallery, we’re a small town.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. aw thank you so much Haley! I’m more than a little out of practice with poetry, but I’d almost forgotten how much fun it is 😊

      that sounds like an AMAZING program, like something out of a literal dream. and hey, at least you do still have a library! one-stop afternoon adventure 😜

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Aww what a lovely poem ❀️ amazing post, Isabelle!

    Though I am planning to use Libby (aka overdrive) more often now I know my town’s library is on there AND offer audiobooks, I have quite a few deadlines so imma go ahead and finish thoses first. It’s been a few years that I haven’t visited my library (except the one time I loaned All our bright places last year), but I do have so many good memories of our library!
    Like you, I used to spend my dinner time at high school at the library for a few years.. in fact I remember reading that ONE serie I wanted to read the next but can’t remember what it was xF though I do remember what it finished on… erh. Additionally, growing up our library had a kind of “camp” where we would go every day until supper-time ish and make crafts, play games, etc. aswell as having a goal of how many books we wanted to read during that thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love that you wrote an ode to libraries to include it with national poetry month as well πŸ˜€ I haven’t used a library since mid secondary school. My main problem was I loved my school library and I had the BEST librarian (who I still email and consider MY librarian.) But the university library just makes me feel… panic. It’s so chaotic and busy because it’s where everyone goes to study. It doesn’t have that quiet, peaceful library feel even though there are quiet floors. However, in July I intend to join an external library and see how it goes!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. aw thank you! πŸ’• and I can totally relate, I go to a pretty big university with multiple libraries but I have yet to find one that brings me the same serenity as my elementary and middle school libraries πŸ˜• I hope your external library is as awesome as you remember your school libraries being!

      Liked by 1 person

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