In honor of "National Library Week", I thought I'd give a shout-out to one of the greatest institutions we have.
I would bet that 100% of you who are reading this blog entry can think of one really wonderful library memory, whether it's from your childhood or just recently. I've been going to the library since I can remember.
I grew up in Green Bay (Ashwaubenon), Wisconsin (Go Pack!), and up until 1972 they had a Carnegie library. It was on Jackson Street downtown, and it was a wonderful old library - or so I'm told (I don't remember that one). They built the new one on Pine Street and that one still stands. I LOVED that library, and that is the one my family would frequent until 1976, when the Ashwaubenon branch opened. It was only a mile from our house so we were there ALL the time. My mom even volunteered there.
There was a really wonderful and well-planned summer reading program at that library, and my mom took full advantage of it. One of my favorite library memories was Miss Olson reading us "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" by C.S. Lewis. To this day, I still wonder what Turkish Delight tastes like. And aside from story time we also had all kinds of crafty options, too. I remember making thumbprint people and LOVING the Ed Emberley books (I even bought them for myself - a couple of years ago).
When my first husband and I moved to Fond du Lac, one of the first things I did was check out the library. That was in 1996, before the remodel. But I still loved it, turquoise Seventies carpet and all. There was a mezzanine in the old one, and it created sort of a 'loft' where you could see the first floor from there. I loved finding an interesting bookshelf and just sitting there and reading. In 2003 the remodel was completed and it made the library even more wonderful. Now there are two stories and a mini-mezzanine. Everything is laid out perfectly and they have really nice reference and history/geneaology sections. There are also fantastic meeting rooms, a used bookstore called the Book Cellar (get it?) and the Langdon Divers Gallery, which showcases talented local artists (like my friends Nicci Martin, Susan Fiebig and Trista Holz). It's not only a library; it's a community center.
I of course spend most of my time at the Fond du Lac Public library, but there are two other libraries that I am not only fond of, but have also been very good to me personally. The first is the Greendale Public Library, in the metro Milwaukee area. I met the library director, Gary Warren Niebuhr, through our ATC live trade group and he liked my work, so he offered me a workshop spot on the roster. Last September I taught about 17 people how to make collaged ATCs. It was a blast (see what I mean about libraries being community centers as well?). This library is also one of the loveliest I've ever seen - it's got WPA ties, too, which makes it even cooler in my opinion.
The other library (but certainly not least!) that I need to give props to is the Kewaskum Public Library. The library director, Steev Baker, also gave me a chance and to date I've taught two classes there. We had wonderful turnouts at both and they were also great experiences for me. Kewaskum is a tiny town of only 3927 people but they have a library that would do well in a town three times the size. I instantly felt at home there, which is how a library should make you feel.
If you love libraries as much as I do, give yours a shout-out today, either by donating your time or money or even just by posting on your Facebook page how much you appreciate everything that it does for your community. If you haven't been to your local library in a while - GO! You'll be glad you did.