Looking down the aisle marked “essays” I spot a vacant leather chair and small end table. My eyes wander to the books as I walk down the aisle to my intended seat. I slow down and read author names, titles. I stop. I set down my book bag that weighs enough to signal the fasten seatbelts alarm when placed on the passenger seat. I grab M Train by Patti Smith and read the first line. “It’s not so easy writing about nothing.” Sigh. I read on to the end of the essay, tuck it under my arm, pick up my bag and turn toward a now occupied chair.
I walk past my intended spot. I pass study rooms and carols, pass rows of living room-like chairs with just-right lighting, all filled.
Finally, off in the distance, I see four leather chairs surrounding a small table, and I claim the one vacant seat and settle. Aside from the occasional quiet whisper or someone walking past, there are no interruptions. Some of my neighbors leave. Others replace them. People of all descriptions pass by.
The library is a busy, quiet place. Bursting with books, magazines, movies, the internet, all forms of media, it is home to everyone. All of it for the taking, for use. It is a place of peace, comfort, and safety. Of words. Of people. Some stay for long stretches of time, others fill a bag and go. They read newspapers, magazines. They read on phones, tablets, and computers. And of course books.
Usually, I don’t spend a lot of time in the library. I’m a bag filler. But today, inspired by Kari Yates’ post, I came to stay.
I finish one book.
Read three chapters of another.
Today, I experienced the gift of reading in the company of others. It’s a powerful thing when everyone around you is deeply engaged in their reading and learning. You can feel it.
And I couldn’t help but think of my students. What have they read since summer started? They had plans, but are they reading? When the school doors close and the teachers pack up for the summer, do kids, can kids continue reading? Uncomfortable questions.
It isn’t surprising to find that library programs create life-long learners. Clearly, I need to promote public library use all year long, not just for the summer reading months. The American Library Association’s (ALA) list of library celebrations for 2016-17 looks like a good place to start a plan for next school year.
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers for Slice of Life Tuesdays. A day to show up and write! Find more slices here.