The basement of my school was divided into thirds: the library, the furnace/boiler/trash room (aka land of the lost/dungeon) and the lunchroom. Our make-shift library was snuggled between the girls’ restroom area and three “walls” that were basically just oversized bookshelves stuffed with books of all sizes and shapes. One of these “walls” was a shorter bookshelf that wasn’t as long as the other two, which allowed an opening for passage into the small “cubicle” inner area. Inside this “room” was a small desk with a chair (for the librarian), some room to move around and scan the shelves and a little reading area with a small table and a few chairs. On the floor was a bright patchwork rug that gave the dingy gray basement a more “homey” feel.
Though the school library was cold, and sometimes I had to cut through the scary and dark furnace “land of the lost-dungeon” area to get to the library, it became my favorite place to hang out growing up. I would beg my teachers to let me stay there inside of going outside to play at recess, but they hardly ever agreed. I would count the hours/days until we had “reading time” so I could go down to the library and spend my time scanning the shelves for hidden books I had not yet read, or checking out stacks of books I had already read to re-read again. I loved that though it was tiny, it was a place I could always find an escape to various far-off lands and find my newest adventure just around the corner of one of the bookshelves. It didn’t take too long for me to outgrow my grade school library and to make my first treasured visit to the main branch closer to the center of town, but I will never forget the first place I discovered my love of reading.
My first library was small, cluttered, sometimes stinky (thanks to the girls’ bathroom being right next to it), and sometimes even noisy with all the flushing, girls chatting and the cafeteria ladies getting lunch ready across the way. Even with all these downfalls, it was a place where I felt safe and where I could go to and know that no one would judge me or tell me what I could or couldn’t read. It was the place I found solace and some of my favorite childhood books. It accepted me in even when I couldn’t read yet (when I first arrived from Brazil when I was 5) and it helped me to learn and gain knowledge as I grew up. For this and so much more reasons, it will forever hold a special place in my heart and in my memories (where I am sure it is far better organized than it ever was in real life).
Where was your first library? Was it a large library or small? What made it special to you? Do you ever go back to visit? I would love to hear all about your own treasure library memories. Share them with me in the comments below. Let’s chat!