Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Library is Fun Again

The year was 1998. It was July. I had a big belly. I had a hot mile-long walk. At the end was a library.

Heaven. It might as well be a spa.

Cool. Quiet. Welcoming. So much magic folded between enticingly dusty covers. Big soft chairs. Windows with a vista on a green hill.

And then, on August 4th, Evelyn was born. And libraries were no fun anymore.

Whether in sling or stroller, she did not like me to stop walking long enough to pick a book. The quiet was no longer peaceful and welcoming. It was demanding and judgmental. Flash forward a year and libraries were still no fun. For me.

Evelyn thought pulling the books off the shelves and climbing in and lying on the the empty shelf was great. Flash forward another year. Evelyn likes the library!

But Clementine, in the sling, does not want me to stop walking long enough to pick out books.

A year later Clem is pulling books off the shelf. Another year later she has honed her grab and run. Grab the book Evelyn is looking at and run! Oh the howling! At age 4 when Greta arrived Clem had just outgrown a love of running away and hiding.

But now we had a new baby.
Who didn't want me to stop walking long enough to pick out books.

Well, Greta is now four!

For 10 years I've been treating library trips as high-precision military strikes. Plan your targets: if possible reserve them so they are waiting for you on the hold shelf. Fly in, drop a few bombs in the form of overdue materials, take your hostages from the hold shelf, and get out of there.

And now, like magic, a trip to the library is a mini vacation. An oasis on a rainy day. A place to linger. And stop long enough to pick out books.


Veronica Boulden said...

I remember hating the library when Norah was younger. I was always sweating there. ??? Right now, the library is great fun again, but within a few weeks I will have a baby to bring along again. I find this post very encouraging! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I could have practically written this post! For years, the library has been either a mommy-only outing or a stressful surgical strike. But now that Anna is 4, I LOVE taking trips to the library. It's such a good reminder of how things change before we even know it.

Stefaneener said...

I'm so delighted when each of them finally passes through the "Whee! Let's de-book the shelves!" phase. Knowing it must, inevitably, end, is all that kept me going some days.

And yes,I forgot about the hot days and the library as a refuge. These days it's all about the warm!

patricia said...

My only issue with the library is the dang computers. My seven-year-old wants to play computer games rather than look at books when he's there. Aargh! I understand they have the computers for kids who might not have access otherwise, but it makes me crazy to have to do the tech battle at the *library*!

On our last trip he admitted that "those games aren't even fun" so maybe we'll be moving into the next library phase as well. Here's hoping...

JeaneP said...

Oh that took me back three births! Wonderful and eye opening memories becoming a Gran. Grandma Ruby loved the Library when she was a child growing up in their house (a book shelf) that she was responsible to dust but dissolved into a lump with a book on it's nose. I too like the library and especially that I can reserve a book on line and that I get a notice of a book being in on line as well.

Kelly said...

So true - the one thing that saved me when Elliot was a baby/toddler was changing libraries! The Danville library is a beautiful building with lots of materials...but they are an uptight, traditional operation and as a result I was always on edge in there.

I LOVE the San Ramon library - smallish, older and well-worn but always teaming with people. Why? They're not a traditional library! There's always a hub-bub of activity and voices in the main and kid areas (quiet can be found back in the adult/reference area). Kids/parents reading aloud, kids doing homework, tutors working with students, activities, librarians bustling around helping people and maintaining the materials. To me it always feels alive, happy, and welcoming....and how else should a place of reading and learning be?