August Blog 2022-
A Lifelong Love Affair

By Jill Lawrence

Cloud Cuckoo Land Painting_edited-1

The affair began in my teens. As a kid my family moved on the average of every three years. I left friends, I left family, I left places special to my childhood and played (worked) hard to find the new. Had to find new friends, new places, new relationships to take the place of what was left behind. I had a longing for something through every move but did not realize until I was older it was home. Home as a place to learn and grow and feel safe exploring new ideas, new things. Home as a place to return to, for a safe base.

 

Books, reading voraciously, gave me so much of what I longed for – except place. Then I discovered the public library. “Home” as traditionally thought of, was not a safe place for returning during my childhood. When I was a freshman in high school, I found the downtown public library that was within walking distance. It became my place of return. An introvert by nature, the library was so perfect for a teenager who did not thrive on sociability. After a long day of trying to figure out who I was in the constant pressure of school, then dealing with the constant pressure of all my “homelife” brought, the library felt like a haven, in many ways, a home.

 

When I left my childhood “home” for marriage and the opportunity to establish my own home I discovered longing is not easily translated into reality. My reality continued to involve moving, leaving behind, and the constant stress of discovering the new. My great fortune was what I had learned as a teenager – check out the library. There was always a wonderful library wherever I lived. Some were in small towns, some were in big cities, some rural – some suburban. All of them were havens.

 

Sunday Morning on CBS aired a great expose on libraries this past Sunday. You can watch it online – cbsnews.com/video/sunday-morning-full-episode-7-24-2022/#x

 

Libraries are growing and changing with the times. The library I knew as a teen, the library I knew as a young mom, the library I know as an older adult, are still there. But many have built around their core new ways of encouraging and enticing community to come be in the library space.

 

I have a habit of checking out the new book rack first when I go to the library.  Recently I brought home “Cloud Cuckoo Land” a novel by Anthony Doerr. I also have the habit of giving up on a book if it doesn’t engage me. I took it back. How did you like it, the librarian asked me? Couldn’t get into it, I told her. Oh, she explained, this book needs awhile to work its way in, do you want to try again? I agreed, took it back home, and after 200 or so pages I was so hooked I could not put it down. The reason I mention this here is one of the main characters in the story is a library. I was so grateful to have read it, I created a painting to give to the library, honoring the librarians.  This quote from the book is on the painting-

He that knows all that learning ever writ,

Knows only this-

That he knows nothing yet.

 

I live in a very small mountain community. The Pine Library is a vital part of this small town. A few years ago, I lived within walking distance of the downtown Phoenix library. I loved it. Now I live within walking distance of the Pine library. I love it. The Pine library may not have all the newest, fanciest, bells and whistles but what it does have is the same spirit of a larger, newer, more modern library. It is a place to learn and grow and discover new things. A place to get good advice on what to read next.  And it has the same wonderful librarians and volunteers who remain committed to what all good libraries offer. A home away from home.

 

A lifelong love affair with libraries. Check it out.