The World in a Basket

I stood outside the library, my face flushed against the spot on the glass I had just wiped off with my sleeve. I couldn’t hear what my friend was saying, but her daughter’s trembling lower lip told me things weren’t going well. I folded the tote bag I had purchased for my friend’s little girl, and stuffed it back in my coat pocket. I had been so excited about the little princess getting her first library card that I forgot to remember she wasn’t me. I thought she was going to be jumping around screaming with delight; calling everybody—Auntie Magaly would get the first call, of course—to ask, “Did you know they let you take the books home?” Hadn’t I called my own aunt and made that exact inquiry 18 years ago?

My sixteen-year-old soul had been so drunk with happiness, the day I found out I could read library books at home, that the librarian had to explain the details to me several times before I believed her. I thought it was a joke. I squeezed the worn out copy of A Little More to Love, tightly against my chest, and promised the librarian that I would treat the teen novel better than if it had belonged to me. When the giggling woman told me I could check out as many as ten books, I squealed. The librarian didn’t learn until a much later day that I had never had a library card, owned a book other than a textbook, or lived in a place where the government provided take-home reading material to its citizens. She had been so touched by my enthusiasm that she bought me a small basket to take my books home. The lid of the carrier read: “I’m carrying the world in here and it has words in it”.

I pulled the little girl’s gift out of my pocket. I couldn’t find a hard case for her to carry her library books, so I got a tote bag that read: “Taking over the world, one cool book at the time”. I glanced back inside the library. My friend was forcing a picture book into the hands of her screaming six-year-old child. I put the tote bag away, and thought, maybe when she’s older.    

22 comments:

  1. So poignant!! Yes the library just isn't the same for kids nowadays. In fact, I am afraid they will all disappear in the near future. Sigh!
    Hugs
    SueAnn

    ReplyDelete
  2. jees, my boys love the library but they have always been surrounded with books, their own and mine. I take them to the library once a week and they choose their own books, I always wanted to do this with them ever since I found out I was pregnant. The boys get so excited when they know where we are heading it makes me smile. Its sad though as there are not many children that visit the library where we live, the librarians are alwasy so shocked when they see the mound of books the boys check out lol and the boys always make a point of telling them that they will take good care of the books as they are only on loan. And they thank them too, something else which seems to be a dying art - good manners.
    Maybe once she is older Magaly she will have the same passion we have for books and libraries, I totally get what SueAnn is saying, it worries me that librarys here will just close through lack of interest.
    Lee's mum isnt big on reading books but she sure does put the time in with our boys, they bring books for her to read and even though she hates reading she will read for them and I like that.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I worry about the fate of libraries in this country, so many are either closing or having their opening hours shortened due to the goverment cuts. I'm lucky that I have the internet at home and easy access to books but many people are not so lucky and for some children around here the library is the only chance they will have to develope a love of books.

    Have to say I laughed abit at the picture of your friends little girl screaming in a quite library, sorry thats probly not the reaction you wanted your story to get (my sense of humor is a bit dry and weird at times). Yet I can well imagine thats what I'd have done age 6. My mother tried from a very young age to pass on her love of both books and poetry but I was a girl who just wanted to out and doing, no time to sit with a book. I think she gave up for a while, then bang, suddenly at about 9 or 10 I discovered books for myself and then you couldn't get my nose out of one. Books are now a passion that is ingrained in my soul. I hope your friends will little girl will find the joy of books for herself.

    The world of books is changing along with everything else. The kindle is a great and useful tool but you don't get the same feeling opening that as you do with a new book. Passing on a file is not the same as giving a friend a treasured book you think they will love. You can lose me for hours in an antique book shop, where the smell, the feel of the worn bindings and all that stored love and heritage is bound up in books within.

    We do need to keep ahead with progress but we should not do away with the very foundations in the process. Libraries contain knowledge and with knowledge we can get freedom. The printed word is still the most powerful of tools in what ever it's form.

    ReplyDelete
  4. SueAnn - I'm hoping those of us who love libraries work together to keep the worse from happening.

    Pixie - I would love to see that. Maybe one of these days... The Princess LOVES the library too. She even has a little bag she takes to nursery school, where she puts her finds ;-)

    Dragonfly - The internet is a great tool, and I LOVE my Kindle. But you are right, I steal smile like a loon when I get a new book. And when I find a precious oldies... weak in the knees. The other day my Piano Man was showing me a comic treasure he has had for 20+ years. I swear the scent of it drugged me. There is nothing like the sweet smell of old paper that has been touched by a person (or persons) in search for stories.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Magaly, I love libraries. Ever since I was little, I thought it was so cool and magical to find all these books, that I could explore! I love the internet, but it's not the same. I do truly hope libraries never go away. I live in a small town, so our library is not as modern as the ones in the big cities and I love that! Have a great day!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hard to believe a child would not be excited about all those books. maybe something else was going on with her. I loved going to the library. My mom would take us. It was overwhelming sometimes. How do you choose just two or three books? Where do you start? It can still be that way sometimes when I don't have something particular I'm looking for.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Libraries are such magical places. This is a wonderful post; touching and a little sad. I was just as excited as you about libraries when I was younger.

    Punky was like the little girl in your post for a short while. Reading became too much of a chore. Thank heavans she is coming around. The other day, I caught her sitting in her closet reading a book!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Love this! When I take the girls to the library it is at least an hour-long, sacred time. We leave with armfuls of books and lay on the floor and read the afternoon away.

    ReplyDelete
  9. My own daughter is a voracious reader. Has been since before she could read. We would go to the library and get Jacque Cousteau books about the Sea and she would have me read them to her a million times. She saw me read to before sleep each night both to her and by myself.
    Before GK was a year old, we were at the library once a week. She and her brother think that it is their special place. They both read at bedtime every night and GK reads all the time right now.
    There is nothing like the smell of books.
    And the kids were horrified the first time I took a beat up old decripid thing and used it to make art with it. I had offended them at a root level....until they looked and realized that the book was morphing into something that someone would look at again...then all was well in the world of my book lovers.
    I can't imagine not reading everyday. And also I agree with one of the other commentors, the crying little girl will, because of her exposure will very likely grow up to love books as well. Have hope.
    TOB

    ReplyDelete
  10. I could spend hours in the library and both of my kids are avid readers as well. About once a month we used to go to the library and then out to lunch on Saturdays. It was like a little ritual we shared. I hate that its beauty is disapearing, but I know it is. I am so glad you were able to experience the library and the written word. The world is a much better place because of it.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Oh Magaly!! How I LOVE your story of your first library experience! I did the same thing! The difference is that we had tons of books at home (my dad was a bibliophile), but I'd read all of them at least twice! I sure hope your princess will get excited.. perhaps even next time :) Hugs! Thank you for sharing so openly with all of us!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Poor thing. I guess I spend way to much time with my nose in books, because my son has developed a obsession with them as well. If I dont read him a book at night we make up stories and its actually a punishment for him to not get his story when hes acting out. I couldnt imagine our lives without books.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Such a fun little story, but I must agree with the overall thought here. Libraries are quickly dying out sadly. Between e-books and such it's eventually going to kill real books sales in the future, I think.
    Personally, I'd much rather curl up in bed or in a bubble bath and flip my pages than to stare at a screen, trying to get comfy at the PC, or thumbing through on a blackberry or something...It just seems wrong. I don't even like the recorded readings, it ruins it for me since the readers voice interrupts imagination....

    ReplyDelete
  14. It seems that we all agree in such a terrible thing. It is sad, but I always wanted to be a book collector; the fact that I'll get my opportunity soon than later doesn't make me happy.

    I doubt the library system will disappear, but things will change; they will evolve. I just don't know if progress (in this case) is such a great thing ;-(

    Let's keep our fingers crossed and celebrate treasures with pages and words that teach.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I remember I used to love the library when I was a kid. I had read all Sherlock Holmes stories by the time I was eight. ^^

    ReplyDelete
  16. I clearly remember getting my first library card. I still have it, even though the signature on it is obviously a child's. (I don't think I was even in first grade yet.) I'm proud of how long I've had it. :)

    I hope this girl recovers from her upset, and doesn't hate all books always. Forcing a book into a child's hands isn't a great way to foster a love of reading. :(

    ReplyDelete
  17. Sadly, libraries are dying out. I'm sad to say I've contributed to that by buying books on Amazon and uploading them to a kindle. I haven't stepped foot in a library since roughly.....2003? My kids don't look at those places with the wonderment I used to. Perhaps I'll go to the library tomorrow, and just sit there and enjoy the smell of musty old books.....for old time's sake.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Sarita - forcing things on people never work.

    LJ - I get all my audio books (well most) from my public library. They also have electronic books for download and I use them. And when I'm not sure if I want to start a particular series, the library is my choice. I use my public library A LOT, I don't want them to go away. I volunteer to read to the elderly and non-English speaking readers. I just don't know what those people would do if the library goes away. My public library is always packed!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Sarita - forcing things on people never work.

    LJ - I get all my audio books (well most) from my public library. They also have electronic books for download and I use them. And when I'm not sure if I want to start a particular series, the library is my choice. I use my public library A LOT, I don't want them to go away. I volunteer to read to the elderly and non-English speaking readers. I just don't know what those people would do if the library goes away. My public library is always packed!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I clearly remember getting my first library card. I still have it, even though the signature on it is obviously a child's. (I don't think I was even in first grade yet.) I'm proud of how long I've had it. :)

    I hope this girl recovers from her upset, and doesn't hate all books always. Forcing a book into a child's hands isn't a great way to foster a love of reading. :(

    ReplyDelete