I hope that many of you have special memories of childhood visits to the library? Today I’d like to celebrate the very first library I remember visiting – St Helier’s Bay Library in Auckland, NZ. Located in the heart of the local shopping centre and a short walk from a pretty beach, it’s a fairly ordinary brick building (it opened in 1931), but for me, it is a place of superbly happy memories. My Dad took us there every Friday night and it was the highlight of each week (thanks, Dad!). After we’d each checked out books (my pile was always bigger than was anyone else’s in the family), Dad then purchased a large block of Caramello chocolate. Then it was home to read in bed, there to blissfully eat chocolate and a crisp green apple, while starting a new book. As I grew older, I would walk there after school. I have since, on return visits, given talks there – something I could never have dreamed would happen when I was a child borrower.
Taking children regularly to a library is vitally important. In this library I made my way through career books for girls (Diana Becomes a Vet, Sue Barton, Student Nurse, etc), I devoured Mary Stewart’s mystery novels set in exotic locations, I made my way through Mills & Boons (I still giggle at the thought of one hirsute hero named Brodie Fox who had a “pelt” on his chest), and I found classics that were lacking from my Mum’s book collection. I remember the exciting day I carried home Forever Amber by Kathleen Windsor and my Mum told me that in the film version the actress playing Amber was ordered to keep one foot firmly on the ground (my imagination went haywire over that one!). The memories of books taken from St Helier’s Bay Library are so rich and good. I only have to walk into the building to feel a sense of happiness wash over me.
Please do everything you can to foster in your children or grandchildren the same love for their local library. You may not be immediately aware of the benefits you are giving them, but you could well be changing their lives. Those childhood visits changed mine!
Do you have fabulous memories of the library you went to when young? Do share them, as I’d love to know which humble or grand buildings set you off on the reading path? Tell me by leaving a comment here.