Sep 12, 2008

Poetry Friday Challenge: Library

As voracious as I am a reader, I've never been a big library visitor.

Oh, don't get me wrong; when I was a kid in school the library was my second favourite place after the lunchroom. The librarians knew me by name from the first week because I was in there every free moment I got, hauling down nature encyclopedias and the "How And Why Wonder Books" of robotics and science and chemistry and nature. Then I discovered science fiction and the floodgates were opened.

I never learned to really and truly enjoy a library, though. My parents weren't leisure readers, and living as we did in the sticks the city library was a good half hour away downtown, in essence a whole other world. We were saved, though, by the presence of the occasional visit by the Bookmobile.

As long ago as that's been I can still see the Bookmobile in my mind's eye. A sort of large cargo truck, carpeted and fitted with cunningly designed wooden bookshelves, painted in a soft, unobtrusive blue and white, it's bus-doors let my mom and I and my brother, both of us barely more than toddlers, access to this little slice of wonderment. The soft scent of books mingled with the sweet stench of diesel exhaust, and I can still remember the thrill I always got when I looked out the back window. The "librarian's" desk took up the back of the bus, and she had the only window other than the windshield. The thought that she could sit back there at her desk and watch the road spool out behind her as they drove along intrigued me as a child.

As I got older and entered high school and college and the requirements of researching the library became, sadly enough, more of a place to work than a place of joy, and our own little library and it's branches locally simply don't turn my crank. Part of that is my need to own books, to return to them time and again, to savor passages or whole stories on my own time, on demand. So, I fill my house with paperbacks and hardbounds and photocopies of old Thurber stories stuffed into other books.

I won't ever forget that blue and white Bookmobile, though. That rolling wonderland that I got to step into every week, even if my mom had to hold my hand to steady me up to the first step.


meno said...

Nice Ode To The Bookmobile.

I wonder, do they still exist?

Jean said...

It was because of the wonderful Bookmobile that I read 'Gone With the Wind' and 'The Nun's Story' in grade school.

One of our local libraries has a bookstore. Twenty-five cents to $3.00. I buy but I don't borrow.
Mostly because borrowing means I have to read according to someone else's schedule and then have to give it back. huh. I don't think so. Just a bit of a rebel *g*.
I love to keep books forever.

Although, the library has huge windows with a view of the river and a big bridge to the ocean. Not a bad place to write, sometimes.

Mother of Invention said...

The big Bookmobile came to my house once to get my overdue book which I had lost! My sister lied and said I didn't live there anymore! I've been terrified of libraries ever since. I actually used to play library and I always wanted to use that date stamp and ink pad! Was great when I was a teacher and I could date stamp kids' work!