This month, I thought I would post about several public libraries that have been vital to my reading life. Until I started thinking about it, I hadn’t realized how many memories I have of libraries in various places among the tri-state area (Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky) that has been home to me for the majority of my life.
I’m starting with the Champaign County Library in Urbana, Ohio. I obtained the historical information below from their website http://www.champaign.lib.oh.us/histlib . Check it out for some pictures. While this was not the first library I had ever been to, it was the first one in which I realized how rich of a resource a library could be. During my years in Urbana, I was in upper gradeschool and junior high which puts this part of my life somewhere in the late 1970’s. This was prior to computerized systems and on-line catalogs. Back then, it was the card-catalog with literal “cards”. I could still look up information based on title, author or subject. How this was manually put together kind of boggles my mind. To find out when a book was due back at the library I couldn’t look my account up on-line, I had to look at the last date on the check-out card in the back of the book. I always found it intriguing to see how far the dates went back on the card.
Urbana is a small enough town that I could ride my bike all over the place. Many of these bike trips would end up at the Champaign County Library on Market St. If I was riding from my home it was a quick trek down Water St., across Main St. at the Urbana Twin Cinema, to Market St. and the library building.
I was at an age when I still went to the “childrens” area but was increasingly finding myself in the adult section. Many of the books that I read fell into the science fiction and fantasy genre, in addition to reading both previous winners and the latest Newbery Medal winner. Katherine Paterson’s Bridge To Teribithia and Ellen Raskin’s The Westing Game were two books that I specifically remember finding, checking out and reading. I have copies of both of these books (not the copies that I read back then!) on my shelf, now, and have enjoyed seeing my kids read them. Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes, an older Newberry Medal winner (even back then) was another favorite that I might have to re-read sometime in the future. I still don’t mind reading a good children’s book. If it’s good, it’s good, no matter how old you are.
I remember one of the librarians telling me that she loved fantasy and science fiction and didn’t like anything realistic. At the time, I thought that was absolutely cool! I had moved away from Urbana when I discovered Ernest Hemingway the summer before tenth grade. I never got to go back and tell her that I now liked realistic books. And since high school, my tastes in reading have pretty much crossed over all genres.
After 64 years at the Market St. location, the Champaign County Library moved to a former grocery store on the other side of town (which still isn’t that far away) in 1996. In spite of the fact that family still live in the Urbana, Ohio area and I have made numerous visits back there, I’ve never been inside the new library. Next time I am there, I need to make a point to check it out. They also have another branch in North Lewisburg (a town even smaller than Urbana), now. It’s in a building that used to be a Friends Church. The church donated their building to the City of North Lewisburg. As I have a few friends who are Friends, and they all love books, I have a feeling this congregation wasn’t disappointed that their former building is now a library.