I wanted to share this piece I wrote at the end of 2007 called Thankful for the Public Library, prompted by library treks as well as my work that year for The Cybils Book Awards.
"I honestly do not remember not knowing how to read. My earliest memory is from when I was two years old, and I was reading by then.
I am told that when my mother read to me, I would shut the book on our hands and say, "I want to do it! I want to read!" I wanted to do everything myself, and reading was no exception. She taught me straightaway, and I cannot thank her enough for encouraging my love of reading, of the written word, of writing, of communication. She also showed me how to use the dictionary, which I would use all of the time to find the perfect word or discover a definition.
Mom brought me to the library often. The librarian was initially reluctant to give a library card to such a little girl. I think my mother was told I could have a card if I could write my name on the back of the card, which I promptly did. I used that card for years and years. Every so often, a librarian would notice my signature - nicely crooked capital letters, kid print - and offer to get me a new card. I thanked them for the offer, but turned them down every time. Once, when my card broke in half horizontally, I simply asked for some tape. I still have that card and I'll never get rid of it.
My hometown library didn't used to have a limit on the number of books you could check out. Neither did my mom. She teased that I could check out as many as I could carry, so I would walk out of that place with books stacked up to my chin. Even though I'm all grown up now and use a different library card at a different library, I still walk out with a stack of books.
I am thankful every single day that such establishments allow me to check out books at no cost. I read a book a day, and there is no way I would be able to afford to buy a new book every single day. It is because of the library that I was and still am able to read as often as I'm able.
I now get books from other sources too, but I'm not in this - this book reviewing, this blogging, this Cybillian participation - for free books. I'm in it for the love of reading. I hope you are too. I am still amazed every time a book arrives for me at work. It's always a surprise. I love it when there no expectations, no pushing me to give it a good review, simply a note saying, "I hope you enjoy it," or, "I thought you'd like this." Thank you for the authors and publishers who send me books, especially those who do so out of the goodness of their hearts. Thank you to those who appreciate my time and my efforts.
If you find yourself surrounded by books that you've read or perhaps haven't the time or interest to read, please pass them on to your local library. Ask them first if they permit donations, and if they do, if they have any rules regarding the condition of the books or if they need certain types of books - age groups, genres, etcetera. Give books to people that will appreciate them and organizations that need them. Just imagine the little girl or boy who finds that donated book at the library, and how that book will be checked out over and over again."