Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Going to the Library

A little library, growing every year, is an honorable part of a man's history. It is a man's duty to have books. - Henry Ward Beecher

Kent had saved some money from metal recycling and had a number of books in mind that he wished to add to our personal library. I was glad he wanted to do that. He’d read several books this year, or read of them, that would make great reference works for his metalworking, machining and our future farming. Then he told me that I could add titles to the list, also. Ooooh! New books are always very exciting. I have found many wonderful volumes at thrift stores and the library sale. We don’t often, though, buy new books in great numbers. This time was an exception.

So what did I add to the list? Well, there were a few reference books I wanted as well. Such as Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health, Euell Gibbons’ Stalking the Wild Asparagus, and Samuel Thayer’s The Forager’s Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting and Preparing Edible Wild Plants. But there were also a couple of novels I had been looking for and hadn’t found yet. I wanted nicely bound copies of Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte) and Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen). I did find a new publication of Sense and Sensibility with a pretty cloth covered hard binding. Jane Eyre was a little harder to locate in hardcover. But I found a matched set of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights – published in 1943 - and coming from the Warner Brothers library in Hollywood, CA. Library cards still in the pockets. Jane Eyre hadn’t been checked out since September 19, 1955. While I never quite understood sister Emily’s Wuthering Heights, I thought I might give it another go and see if I could connect in any way with the dark story of Catherine and Heathcliff. Usually I find that I would rather spend an afternoon shutting my own hand in a car door. But Jane Eyre I will read at least once each year. I love that story.

The fact that the books have long languished in a library made Kent laugh. He commented that it was only right that I have them to read. He is referencing a story I’ve told him about when I was a young girl and was permitted to work in a library. I was 11 or 12 years old and begged, cajoled and otherwise insinuated myself into the public library in Union City, Pennsylvania, where we lived. I loved the library. I believed I wanted to be a librarian. I had even made cards for all my own library books at home. I had a three-shelf book shelf by my bed and I had passte-in book plates with cardinals on them so I called it the Cardinal Library and I put my books in Dewey decimal order. I also went to the public library at every opportunity. It was next door to the elementary school so that wasn’t much of a leap. Anyway, they let me cover the desk for short periods of time while they ran an errand. Oh, it was a thrill to rubber stamp the due date on a card and pocket. I also got to put the crisp, clear protectors on new books when they arrived. And I was allowed to re-shelve books. In the course of my time in the library, if I happened across a book that had not been checked out in a long time, I would personally check it out and read it so that it would not feel neglected and unwanted. Silly, but it was a kind of mission for me. Seems I’ve passed this on to my daughter, as well. Since she also understands that books are people, too. (Yes, I’m smiling as I say that.)

1 comment:

Valerie said...

I have no problem forming the picture of a young Kristine, holding down the public library desk of a small town as if the guardianship of the Holy Grail itself had been entrusted.

It's a very sweet image to hold on to.

And I'm happy you gave all those lonely books a boost of self esteem. Some of them are probably still replaying the time that young girl took them home to read and how loved they felt, if for only a brief period...