The Brighter Writer







FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2012


The Public Library



I used to work in a library before I was a cocktail slinger. I was never a "librarian." You need a Master's Degree for that. Although I used to tell drunk people I was just to freak them out sometimes. I guess it's hard to imagine the girl standing on the bar at 2 in the morning screaming at the top of her lungs "LAST CALL!!!" quietly working away entering dissertation numbers and telling people which way to the reference section. But I did. Watson Library, University of Kansas. (Rock Chalk Jayhawk, go KU!)

Even when I was a kid I loved the library. The smell of old books had me hooked. I would spend hours and hours with my mom checking out magazines and books on River Phoenix and then I would stand at the copy machine with every dime I had making copies of his gorgeous face to hang on my wall. The librarians knew me. I was the 13-year-old obsessed with the dead guy. I must have made them go into the basement for archives a million times.

Later on in life, libraries sketched me out for whatever reason. Something about the "free" concept, the I-promise-to-return-this, the let-me-sit-here-on-your-complimentary-Internet part of it just didn't seem natural to me. In my head I guess I pictured that libraries turned into loitering places for homeless guys and stinky hippies and their kids and dogs sometime around 2001. I don't know. Nothing I ever think is really logical.

In reality the library, at least the Orange County Library - University Park, is such a lovely place. The funny thing about these magical buildings is that they hold the power to make people want to be on their best behavior for some reason. I thought I'd test the theory on Kalynn to see if it holds up for toddlers too. Turns out, it totally does. She loves talking in a whisper and tip toeing through the halls. And they are so incredibly toddler friendly! They have craft days, and family reading time, and story time where they sing songs and play games. They even have Read to a Dog days where you bring a blanket and the local shelter brings a handful of the most gentle, certified therapy pups to get loved on and read to. It's truly a great place. If you haven't been to your local branch in a while, I highly recommend a reunion. (And no, the Bookmobile doesn't count)