A few years ago, one of my sisters asked if I would mind taking her three daughters to the library after work once a week. Being a dedicated auntie, I happily obliged. There’s something about me you should know: I love the library. I have some pretty cherished early memories of our mom hauling us off to the library growing up. I can remember the smell of the place, feel the heft of the wooden card catalogue drawers and especially the touch of all the book spines as I walked up and down the aisles breathing in the scent of the old paper. The Babysitters Club, Judy Bloom, hidden treasures named something I can’t remember that contained stories I’ll never forget. Of course! Of course I would share this with my nieces.
We started going before Hope could write her name. She eagerly learned how to print H-O-P-E so that she could get her very own library card and check out her own books, her own magazines, her own videos. These three are pretty funny about making sure that their checked items are their own. Nevermind that they live in the same house, and will all watch that movie Grace picked out, that is Grace’s movie. Mercy was practically just a baby then. We’d let her older sisters play on the big kid’s computers, and then Mercy and I would hang out in the toddler area, reading book after book and playing with the developmental toys until the timer (or my hungry tummy) went off. After collecting our things, we’d repeat the process the following week. Every Tuesday is different though, because every time we go I see them process and execute something they learned the week before. Mercy can print her name now, and carries her library card proudly (when it’s not lost, that is).
There are no physical card catalogues anymore, all of the materials have been locked away in the computer. It may be less confusing, but it’s still a process to teach the girls how to look up their books and things, write down the call numbers and find everything in it’s place on the shelf. The older girls can look everything up on their own now, sign-in and place holds, log on to the public computers and play the games they want on the approved websites. They help Mercy out, and lend a hand to the other, sometimes older, kids there who haven’t learned all the tricks yet. This tickles me to no end. I taught them these things, and I am helping to instill in them a love for not just reading, but for the library.
So I recently recommended the girls check out “The Cosby Show” season two. They had never heard of this show, and it was another one of my favorites growing up. We giggled in the car on the way to the library when taking the video back, laughing over the episode where Theo thinks he can model to support himself. While he’s visiting a friend, his parents clear the house to create an “apartment” and the youngest daughter, Rudy, is the crusty landlord who helps teach the lesson. It struck me that they picked out the episode of “The Cosby Show” that I cherish most, one that I haven’t seen since I was their age but still remember fondly. We laughed at the same parts even through the generation gap. How cool is that?
The library by our house growing up was right next door to a Baskin Robbins. Some days, our mom would let us stop in and pick out an ice cream cone after we’d collected our books for the week. And some days, I take my nieces to get something special after our library outings. I never get a treat for myself – no, I don’t need one. I have these Tuesdays, these memories, this time with them. Seriously, that is the sweetest thing of all.