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National Library Week 2010!

Today is the start of National Library Week here in the US–a week to honor and recognize libraries for all of the awesomeness that they entail.  I thought I’d honor the week with a post about the important role libraries have played in my life.  I hope you all will chime in and do the same!

My parents didn’t have much money when I was little, and on top of that, my mother homeschooled my brother and I.  The bi-weekly trip to our local public library was completely an adventure.  I couldn’t believe that all these stacks and stacks of books were available for me to read!  Since we lived on a secluded road in backwoods Vermont, I didn’t get to see many other kids my age on a regular basis.  My brother was 5 years older than me, and all the other kids on the road were boys a bit older than me at least, so books became my friends.  When I was done with schoolwork, I’d run off to read.  When books were done, the scenes and characters became the back-drop for my play.  The only reason I was able to pursue reading so enthusiastically was because of the library.

When I reached high school, I was allowed to go to public school.  The library became a safe place for me to go and explore all these new ideas and worlds I was being exposed to.  Books that I took out from there and read led to me changing some very fundamental ideas I had held up until then.  I would not be the person I am today without that experience.  It was more than having access to the books.  It was knowing that I could take them out and read them without judgment from the librarians or fear that they would run and tell somebody what I was reading.

In university the library became my work study place of employment.  The library yet again was providing me access to books, both in the free form and in the money for textbooks form.  I couldn’t get over the whole working environment.  The librarians were, by and large, really cool!  They were hip and sympathetic to my sometimes overwhelming life as a first generation college student.  I was introduced to WorldCat and was amazed at my ability to hit the “Get It Now!” button and get nearly any item from other libraries in the US.  (I’m sure the inter-library loan department wasn’t quite of fond of my love of the Get It Now button as I was, haha).  The library was my go-to place to hang out with my friends, for quiet study, to work on a computer between classes (I didn’t have a laptop for most of college).  Almost all of my friends from university are sorted under a Goldfarb Library tab on Facebook.  It was yet again a safe place for me to live life and figure out what I think and who I am.  Needless to say, it’s also where I figured out that I wanted to be a librarian, and is it any wonder when I see what impact librarians have had on my life?

When I look back over my life, it’s easy to see that I wouldn’t be the person I am today at all without libraries.  I wouldn’t have been encouraged to explore, to make mistakes, to read new and sometimes crazy ideas (to make noise and surreptitiously have a slice of pizza with friends).  I can’t imagine anything else that could fill that place in my life.  For that reason, I am passionate about libraries in the 21st century.  They are relevant, because what else can provide all of that to a growing, changing, exploring person?  Libraries are a large part of what made me free to be me.

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