Today, I’ll take a closer look at another category for the RWC 2017 Reading Challenge.

Category #3: A Book From the Library

February is Library Lovers’ Month. I won’t be posting specific book examples today as you can find so many. But I thought I’d share some of my personal experiences with libraries instead.

Interpretation on this one is simple: A book from the library. It can be your local library, school library, church library. Fiction, nonfiction, short, long, whatever. Maybe it’s an e-book from their online lending system. If it comes from the library in any way, shape, or form, it counts.

My earliest memories of the library go back to elementary school. I lived in a rural area with no close neighbors and I was the oldest sibling by five years. I began reading at an early age and books became my primary form of entertainment. Book exchange day was my favorite. I quickly asked if I could take out more than one book and still had to beg my teacher to let me go back to the library on other days to keep me busy. I even begged for early access to the “big kids” books because the books for my age level didn’t hold my interest.

By high school, the library represented a wealth of knowledge. I came of age during the pre-internet days when research meant relying on printed materials. While the shelves offered a wide range, I was fascinated by the other materials that required librarian assistance – films, archives, etc.

As an adult, I finally sought out the local library branch while living in Wake County. Their library system is amazing. It was my first experience with interlibrary loans and specialized branches for history. We spent a long day at the Olivia Raney Local History Library accessing their city directories from the 1930s while trying to track down the story of a grave in our backyard. The librarian there was astounding in knowing where to point us and how to access resources we hadn’t considered. I also spent a lot of hours in two of their branches close to work and home.

Kate Waller Barrett Branch Library in Alexandria

And now, I’m living in Old Town Alexandria. I just walked to my library last night – it’s only four blocks away. While on a recent vacation, I frequently borrowed books from their online library – while over 2000 miles away. It’s not only a great source of books for me, but my writing group meets there once a week to work on whatever creative words we’re trying to put together.

It makes me sad to think about the number of people who don’t take advantage of their local libraries. Whether you’re reading a Harlequin romance or working on a university thesis, I find it to be such a refuge of both escapism and facts.

And (excuse a brief moment of politics) in a time of “fake news” and “alternative facts” and questions about the future of the education system, I expect the importance of libraries to increase.

What are some of your favorite library memories? How often do you visit?

If you have suggestions for books that fit in future categories, let me know. I’ll include your name (and a link, if you like) when I share those suggestions.