Thursday, July 20, 2017

A Library for ALL my Thirds

I’ve been suffering withdrawal the last couple of weeks. Library withdrawal. Our main library, Loussac Library, was closed for the big remodel, and for a library-aholic, this has been rough.

As I thought about it, I realize the library is the one institution that figures significantly in all my Thirds. From my first introduction to the little old library in New Jersey that smelled of books, to the library I inhabited through high school, to the Youth Services section Sophie and I practically lived in, the library is where you might find me if I’m not home. Even now, I’m an every-other-day-er.

I’ve had an office way in the bowels of the San Francisco Public Library, did the public information and promotion for Anchorage Public Library, and got my library cards as soon as I arrived in Manhattan and London for my months. I’m not part of a community till I’m a Friend of the Library.

The library took me through the First Third of preparing for adulthood. At midnight, when the library closed on campus, hundreds of bicycles took to the street. The library was the place where I read the reserved reading for my Human Sexuality course. When I perceived that the guy on the opposite side of the carrel was masturbating, and I was reading that I wasn’t supposed to give him the thrill of my fear, I got up and calmly walked to the desk … until a friend reached out for me and I screamed bloody murder. (Bet you didn’t expect that last little bit of history to hide in this paragraph!)

Then in my Second Third, when Sophie expressed an interest in anything, we’d race to the library to get a book on it. Amusement parks! Rocks! Gems! The discovery of very old editions of Flower Fairies of the Garden sparked years of poetry, fairies, and gardening. When there was a parenting issue (me-first-itis, big bed fears, honesty), the librarians would help me find a picture book that dealt with that issue. As the Storytime Lady in the Alaska Botanical Garden, I spent years reading every picture book on flowers, bugs, trees, gardens, vegetables, seeds, and forest animals.

And now, the library accommodates my Third Third self. I get to do the pleasure reading I want; I get to reserve and watch too many DVDs. Even the Guerrilla Knitters meet there and decorated trees there. The library is there whenever my flexible schedule puts me there.

And then it wasn’t.

The remodel has been going on for a year. Things moved around. DVDs changed floors. Elevators opened on strange territory. Visqueen and plastic decorated the walls. Nothing looked like it used to. It was so disconcerting that I gave up on hanging out there. I put holds on my requests, picked them up on the ground floor, and went home grumpy. I felt like a curmudgeon who couldn’t happily adapt to change, and the only thing worse was when the library closed totally for two weeks.

Grump, grump, grump.

But then Wednesday happened, grand re-opening day! I took my shift as a helpful volunteer, opening the main door and greeting people coming and going. What a happy day! What a happy task!

“Welcome to the new Loussac Library!”

It was rainy and gray, but Anchorage came out for the big re-opening. People were curious, happy, and just eager to get back in. The library is the place where all of Anchorage shows up: the preschoolers, the elderly, the high-schoolers, the families. The professionals, the loungers, the get-in-get-a-book-and-get-out folks. The clusters of friends, the quiet and solitary.

“Welcome to the new Loussac Library!” I was meant for this job! What a great way to spend my time. I felt like I was opening a golden door, a welcome to heaven, to a new shiny place with new spaces and new places to sit. It will take some getting used to, but that should be easy: I’ll be spending a lot of time there.
“Welcome to the new Loussac Library!” See you there.

1 comment:

  1. I hated going there during the construction. But I hated going up and down those awful steps before the construction. What a bad idea that was.


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