I’ve had a love affair with libraries all of my life. For the 2022 celebration of National Library Week, which starts Sunday, it feels good to reflect on how these public spaces can be portals that transport readers to new ways of thinking and into new worlds.
My first library card was created on a manual typewriter at the Monroe Street Branch of the Madison (Wisconsin) Public Library system by some caring librarian. Being the proud owner of that small, tan passport to innovative ideas and faraway places, I am sure I skipped the six blocks back to my home.
More than 50 years later, I don’t have to go six blocks to find a library (much less skip). The Wisconsin Water Library is literally steps outside of my office door. It’s one of more than 5,150 specialty libraries in this country and boasts a 30,000-item collection available to any Wisconsin resident.
Our librarian, Anne Moser, is a bundle of energy—not only acting as a custodian of the books, magazines, DVDs, manuals and journals—but also engaging in outreach that takes her to all corners of Wisconsin. In addition, she recently started a Book Club called Maadagindan! (Start Reading!) Literature for Young People About the Great Lakes and Ojibwe Culture. A recent presentation as part of Sea Grant’s Lake Talk series also offers details.
Anne is inspiring youth through books and I’m grateful to have recently shared my 4-year-old nephew’s enthusiasm for libraries. He lives in another state, so I don’t see him as often as I’d like. On a visit last month, though, I accompanied him to his, “local library,” as he always refers to it.
Here’s a snap of us celebrating after collecting a large stack of books, which are just barely visible to the left at his feet. Before his mother, my sister, took this photo, he insisted on staging it to be sure the books would be part of the moment.
Learn more about the nation’s libraries at the American Library Association’s website.