When I was growing up, the public library was right at the crossroads of life.
Literally, it shared strip-mall real estate with the grocery store (Food Lion), the drug store (Crown Drug), and one of the two restaurants in town (Doomy’s Pizza). It was right across from the school, the post office, the community center, the bank and the church (OK, we had WAY more than one church in Lewisville, but this was MY church). All of this less than a mile from my house (less than that if you went through the woods, but we usually didn’t).
Beyond it’s physical centeredness was how central it was to how we lived. We went to storytime every week. We went to movies in the multi-purpose room – it was packed when Return of the Jedi came! – Halloween costume parties, and Easter egg hunts on the grounds. I remember the head librarian, Merrikay Brown, more than any of my teachers! I remember when I first got the responsibility and freedom of my very own library card, so I could peruse and choose while mom shopped for groceries.
We don’t frequent the library programs as much as my family did growing up, but we certainly avail ourselves of their services! The online request system means we can add a book, movie, or CD to our queue in the middle of the night, even before it actually comes out (as long as the library has ordered it), and they’ll shoot us an email when it’s ready to be picked up. We’re reading sacks of books a week right now!