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Terri Farley
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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Love Letter to Libraries

Dear Readers,
When I heard that this library was in danger of closing, I decided to write about it for the SAVE SCHABERG LIBRARY's blog.
I know lots of you love libraries as much as I do, so I thought I'd share.

Schaberg was my husband’s boyhood library, the first place Cory was allowed to walk alone. Cocky with independence, he’d go striding down Alameda to Vera, then cross the Roosevelt School playground to Euclid Avenue just because he could.
Sure, he came home with an armload of books, quickly read so that he could make that trip again, but this small library gave him more than the roots of learning, it gave him the hidden gift of independence.
We live in Nevada, now, but it’s no coincidence we bought a house across the street from a rural library.

I discovered how closely my children resembled their father the day a librarian brought our dogs home. Rookie and Rosie had escaped their kennel and ended their frolic at the Verdi library. I was surprised and pleased that they knew where to go for help. Then the librarian confided that all of the hours of exercise I thought my dogs and kids were getting -- well, those ended at the library, too.
After darting down our dirt road and across the street, my kids went in to read. Rookie and Rosie, collie and German Shepherd, provided the Verdi equivalent of the New York City Public Library lions.
My children’s love of books was no surprise, but they were both a bit shy and I was delighted that they’d talked adults into keeping their visits secret.
As a pudgy girl with glasses and disabling asthma, I rarely rode bikes and played street ball with friends. I was a poor athlete, the classic “last chosen” for school teams, but I was a star at the Paramount public library. Within days of crossing the library threshold, Nancy Drew mysteries and horse books literally had my name on them, because checking out a book meant signing a card that lived inside it.
One day a librarian told me, as she stamped and stacked my books, that my name should be Phillipa, because it meant lover of horses. I was stunned. She knew I loved horses? Names had meanings? Fifty years later, I still feel the elation and wonder.
Cory grew up to be a Best-of-Gannett newspaper columnist. I grew up to write books for young readers. My daughter will soon teach high school English and my son writes brilliantly on popular culture. Books gave us affection for stories and words, but small libraries like Schaberg gave us the hidden gifts of independence, communication and self-worth.
A seed that grows a thousand blooms is rare, but neighborhood libraries are just that, growing readers and thinking human beings by the bushel. We owe it to our world to keep them alive.

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