Why do we need libraries?
Doesn’t everybody read online or download digital books now?
Maybe, until there is a blizzard and the power goes out.
People on the East Coast knew they had a terrific storm brewing, so after they stocked up on food and essentials, they headed in droves to their public library.
Imagine, long lineups for actual books!
Yes, it is nice to read on devices, but they will not replace a good old paper book.
And books need a space to live until you are ready for them.
The new Summerland library has been open now for about four months. It’s so much fun seeing people come in for the first time.
They know they have entered a special place.
Bright and spacious with cozy chairs to settle into and connect with a book.
That connection is really what it boils down to, not so much what the library looks like on the outside, but what it contains on the inside. Books!
I grew up surrounded by books.
My childhood home had a bookcase that ran the length of the entire kitchen and it was packed full.
My British mum introduced me to Robert Louis Stevenson’s “A Child’s Garden of Verses”, A.A Milne’s “The House at Pooh Corner” and Enid Blyton’s “Noddy” series.
One of my favourite poems was “Halfway Down”, which came from the green, cloth bound volume of A.A Milne’s “When We Were Very Young”.
I must have read it a hundred times.
My mum and I spoke on the phone recently and I asked her if she still had these books.
As she pulled each one out of the box she said “You kids destroyed these books, they’re falling apart!”
I said “No Mum, they were just well loved.” We laughed because those books hold a lot of good memories.
All three classics are available at the library.
Another vivid memory I have is being eight years old and finally able to roam my elementary school library alone for the first time.
I was thinking “I get to choose any book I want? Amazing!”
I went straight over to the non-fiction stacks and pulled out the book I wanted to take home and read.
I recall the title, colour and size, but mostly I recall the way it made me feel.
That was all it took to instill a lifelong love of libraries.
Ask me at the Circulation desk the next time you visit the library what this magical book was, and remember I was only eight!
Some of that special joy was brought to the people of Mozambique by a local fellow named John Topham. Along with Rotary Summerland, John helped build a school library.
Come see the pictures and hear his story at the Summerland Branch of the Okanagan Regional Library, Tuesday, Feb. 23 at 6:45 p.m. in the Meeting Place. All are welcome to attend this free event.
Caroline McKay is an Assistant Community Librarian at the Summerland Branch of the Okanagan Regional Library.