The Library of My Childhood

Most people think that becoming a librarian is an extension of my love of reading.  Don’t think on one leading to the other.  Rather becoming a librarian and being a reader are the results of my experiences in libraries through my life.  I have better memories of my childhood libraries than I do of school.  I was not the kid who volunteered at the library or worked in one for years.  It took my depression and the suggestion of a friend to see libraries as more than places for me to use.

The first library memory I have is of our local branch library.  The Miami system for libraries is not like anything I have experienced in Massachusetts- except in Boston.  Since Florida functions around a strong county system, unlike Massachusetts, each county has a main library and as many branches as they can afford.  In Massachusetts it is all based around the town or city.  Within Miami, the main library was huge and far from my home.  The regional library was large, but it was a 20 minute trip.  When we went it was typically for a good reason and we often ran other errands in the area.  It was the small branch library that I visited weekly.

The building was yet another Brutalism style building.  I spent my life in many Brutalism buildings.  The main floor of the library was divided in half between the children’s room and adult’s room.  It was the card catalog that acted as the divider.  This is the library where I learned the Dewey Decimal system and how to use the old card catalog.  This is the library I got my first library card and my first access to a computerized card catalog.  As I grew up I made my way down the floor of the children’s room.  I often skipped the non-fiction section to get first to the children’s books and later to the young adult books.  This is the library where I went to story time and other events for kids.  It was where I had to dare myself to sneak into the adult’s section to find my parents because I wasn’t allowed there (according to one librarian).  It was here that the children’s librarian let me play at her desk.

As an adult I spent time there when I came back from Tallahassee in the middle of my depression.  I would sit in the library and do homework or research for stories I wanted to write.  My (currently) terrible epic novel started during this period.  This library was the backbone of my experience in libraries.  I compare all other libraries to it.  I have been in far better libraries, but I have also been in worse libraries.  I stopped going here as I started working in academic libraries.  It no longer met my needs.  Still every time I drive by when I am in Miami, I remember it fondly.

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