i forgot

i forgot

when i was young, going to the austin public library was like a  magical field trip. the way i remember it, the children’s section was in the middle of this large room where bookcases went up to the ceilings, and skylights in the ceilings let the sun in to shine down on my 5-year-old head as i sat in the small children’s section on small chairs at small tables, pulling books off short shelves that made a semi-circle that cordoned off that section. all around me were books, and a winding staircase led the way to the upper loft-like level where more adult books were waiting for me when i grew a little older. plants, tall windows, sunlight and books.
i think i abandoned the public library when i went to school. the gradeschool library wasn’t as as magical as the public library, but it still contained the magicalness that is books. the biggest obstacle at the gradeschool library was not being able to check out books i wanted to when i was in 2nd grade. apparently reading beyond my grade level didn’t matter the the stick-in-the-mud librarians. but once able to move to the big-kid books, oh i could get lost in the stacks.
when we moved to new london, we started to frequent the public library more – my guess is because it was 5 blocks down the road as opposed to 5 miles in town. saturday became library day – everyone minus my dad would go to the library, where we each had our own card, and choose our books for the week. yes, the high school had a (bigger) library as well, and i would check out books there, too.
and that was it for my public library days. at st. ben’s, i had access to two university libraries, and i did very little reading for fun those days (school always getting in the way of learning, sheesh). it wasn’t until after i graduated from st. cloud state that i started reading for fun again in an intense way. and read i did. i bought books from amazon, half, goodwill, savers, half-price bins, full-price bins – anywhere i could get my hands on them. and not just good books – i bought bad books, too. sure, there are always a few gems in the mad rush to find 99¢ books at goodwill (“a walk in the woods”, anyone?), but most are stinkers.
and then about a month ago, i thought, “how much money have i spent on books?”  i couldn’t tell you. but when i realized that last year i read 60 books, and the average cost of my books is about $4 a book, that’s a chunk of change. and me with an expansive library system in the area.
two weeks ago, i went to the waite park library and got a library card – my first one since i was 18. i was on my way to work, so i didn’t check out any books that day, but i quickly went online and put a couple books on reserve. i picked one up last wednesday and read it, then yesterday i went to the st. cloud public library to drop it off and browse.
I FORGOT.
I FORGOT.
i FORGOT how AWESOME the library is. i FORGOT how wonderful library books are. i FORGOT the smell of books, even in the new library, and how they fill your nose with paper and slight must. i FORGOT the plastic wrappers around the hardcovers, and how it just screams that you, yes YOU are a library user and proud of it. i FORGOT.
i went home with 4 books. no paying, no questions, no wondering what you’re going to find in a stack of books. i went for specific things, and i found them. after i finish them, i’ll take them back and get more.
why did i wait so long?

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