A huge chunk of my better youth was productively spent in the reading rooms, at long study tables, or in hidden cubbies of a number of libraries. Mom started us young, at the orange- carpeted seventies- style children’s room of my old hometown. I was very proud of my first card.
One of the reasons she transferred me from public to private school was the sad lack of a school library. There was a little room crowded with shelves that admitted maximum three students at a time to browse a pathetic assortment of overly worn books. Nope, sorry, not gonna work.
The expensive country day school had a brightly colorful, sunny, open- concept area at the heart of the building. My Catholic high school had a classically decorated space with large windows and overstuffed chairs, lots of woodwork and heavy study tables. College featured every imaginable option, but somehow I always ended up in the modern common room of the sciences library, along with every other pre-med. Well I remember the day they installed a bank of computers where we could use this new thing called the internet.
Medical school. I lived among the lower- level stacks. Aisle upon aisle of mildewy bound scientific journals going back to the 1800’s, flanked by the most uncomfortable desk cubbies ever created, lit by buzzing fluorescence. One could not fall asleep, which was the point.
The hospital where I trained had a solid little medical library in one of their older buildings, where antique-and-portrait-laden meeting rooms inspired a group of young writers.
Flash forward. Our town has a library with something for everyone. Usually, it’s me and the kids in the children’s room. But lately, they’ve been doing sessions with Babyboy’s behavioral therapist, and I’m free to wander.
It’s been well over a decade since I had any reason and the liberty to explore a library. This afternoon, I plopped down into this lovely upholstered chair by the fireplace, admired the sculptures, chandelier, massive windows, mirrors, artwork… there are also areas featuring contemporary and folk art. And, of course, scads of periodicals, a well-curated book collection, and audiovisuals galore.
Man, I love a proper library. I’ve missed this!