My local library is in a tither: cutbacks, hours slashed. Recently, 19 of our book wizards were let go, librarians shown the great literary door due to county budget cuts. The library board of directors say that there is no money to pay for weekend or evening hours, or to buy new book titles.
Luckily, in my area, there is a small library, independently managed, with their own board of directors, staffed by a superhero strain of librarians. They, deservedly, are a proud bunch. I travel a half hour to get there, and it's worth every tread I wear into my tires.
There, imaginations burst in the children's department. My kids run into the wonderland where the children's librarian staff has filled the wide room with homemade teepees and twisted limb trees made of brown painted bedsheets honoring our Native Americans. Next to the forest, a pint-sized purple castle is decorated with homemade puppets and shiny wooden turrets of gold, children strewn nearby reading Rick Riordan and Jeff Kinney. Playing chess. The ceiling tall windows, never bare, are painted with bright markers turning the panes into medieval stained glass.
It is a magical place.
As I handed the librarian my non-resident card to pay my fine (I like to keep the library solvent!) and renew my Friday read, A Need so Beautiful, I mentioned my admiration for the set-up. I told her how much I appreciated their vision, and hard work.
She stopped, tilted up her readers, and said, "People say there is a difference in this place, you know." She let her glasses drop back down, smiled a Cheshire grin, and handed over my books, sweeping her hand over the counter. "And isn't amazing that this is all free?"
There is a difference, and yes, pretty much, and though we pay taxes, it is all free, the books and the teepees and the painted bedsheet trees. But without a vision, without a path, a library is just row after row of oaken shelves lined with books. So, to all librarians who think outside of the binding: Thank You. To our family, you are all rockstars.