Tuesday, August 18, 2020

A Place of Connection


As an avid reader from a young age, I have always found solace, comfort, and discovery in books.

When I was a young child, my mother often discovered me in a sunny window nook with a book, and sent me outside to play. I would join neighborhood kickball games or hikes in the woods, but inevitably I returned to the back porch to read.


In elementary school I couldn't wait for the new book flyer to come out. I would select many books, but I could only choose one. My mother suggested we visit the library. It was there I discovered a world of wonder and delight, and the opportunity to go places that I might never actually see.

 

In high school the library was my place of connection. During my junior and senior years, it was there that I spent time with friends “studying,” though we just wanted to be with each other. It was exciting and risky, joking and laughing and whispering in low tones lest we get a stern warning.

 

During my college years I used the library to study and conduct research. It was a different time, before online research existed, and I used a typewriter to assemble my notes, carefully citing the books I signed out. I also discovered the special collections my university held and what a treasure trove they were.


I went to graduate school in a large city where we had to call the campus police for a ride home if we left the library after dark. There was danger outside but safety within the library’s walls. I had a work study job in a smaller library at the university, which was a place where I connected with other students and felt at home among its stacks and resources. It was also an experience that will forever connect me with the trauma of violence, since my supervisor’s husband was tragically killed.

 

When I became a parent for the first time, right here in South Burlington, it was our community library that connected me with other parents. When the children’s collection added a new book, the library honored the birth of a South Burlington child with a book dedicated in their honor. When my children were a little older, we would search for “their book” and read it together. I remember when my eldest son was a young elementary student fascinated by the large atlas in the library. An older gentleman connected with him and shared stories about the many places he visited while my son listened, rapt and in awe.

 

The solace, comfort and discovery that I have found in books has not diminished as I age. I feel transported by memoirs and my thinking is expanded by both fiction and nonfiction. I love perusing the stacks in bookstores, but it is not the same as a library. In a library, readers are connected each time a book is checked out. Who else chose this book and what led them to it? Who are these people you know only as a date due before or after you? These library conventions bind us together and create a shared history.

 

This is why I’m heading into my third year on the Library Board of Trustees. -DB

1 comment:

  1. I loved reading this. It took me back to 4th grade, my first memory of using a library. I could get 10 books out - two had to be non-fiction, so usually I chose biographies. I was a regular at the library after my high school day was over - walk uptown, window shop, end up at the library in the high back armchair, sometimes sneaking into the magazine room where adults were allowed to make a cup of instant coffee. I can't wait until the youth of SB have such a place to make memories!

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