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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Haunting the Library

If my mother were alive, today would be her 90th birthday. She and my father taught me and my siblings to love books. It worked: I'm a writer, like Mother was. One of my sisters is a librarian. My brother is a book seller. My one sister who isn't in the book business has a Ph.D, like my dad did. We all seem to be partial to book learnin'.

I went to the library yesterday to research a new book. It was about 100 degrees out. On hot days people come in, find a book and a comfy chair and snooze in the air conditioning. Added to that, "the collection is being rearranged," or words to that effect, adding to the busy feeling at the library. I don't know if the new fourth floor teen center (pictured here in its larval phase) is a cause or an effect of the rearrangement. I found a quiet bench on the fourth floor near the construction area and read for a while.

After I checked out my books I stopped at the Friends of the Library book store to see if I could snag a bargain. A woman there was buying almost all of the children's books. She reminded me of someone who would be very old today if she were still here. But she'd have no trouble finding her way around a busy library.

19 comments:

Shell Sherree said...

Sounds like a lovely reflective yesterday, Petrea. And there's an air of promise suspended in this photo.

Dina said...

Your mother would be proud of you, Petrea. Even just from reading this one post.

dive said...

I agree with Shell and Dina.
There's no more valuable gift a parent can give a child than a love of reading.

Steven said...

Those are very nice words. And a fine tribute to your mother and your family. Very nice.

Speedway said...

It's good to know things are being rearranged rather than taken away.I could read from an early age and the library was both an escape and blessing for me, opening doors to places I may never get to visit but create possibilities.

Petrea Burchard said...

Thank you all. My mother was proud of each of us. I remember her teaching us reading when we were very young, and reading to us when we were even younger.

My brilliant and beautiful cousin Melanie gave me a book called "How Buildings Learn" by Stewart Brand. I'm just now reading about how the Library of Congress has never been able to keep up in size with the volume of books and materials we continue to need to put in it. It is always bursting at the seams.

I don't know how Pasadena has managed, in these budget crunch times, but our library shows room for expansion on the shelves and in the building itself. For a start, we don't have the mandate to carry every book ever published, so I suppose we can get rid of stuff every once in a while. However, I had no trouble finding the relatively obscure titles I needed yesterday.

Latino Heritage said...

Lovely post. Not surprising that you love words or that they love you back - as it were.

Our library and our city is lucky to have dedicated and smart staff that are always looking to see what's next on the horizon. Our current and former Heads of the Library have also held presidency of the American Library Association. The system also has some aspects that are cooperative with other local library systems.

You are so right about our being lucky.

Bellis said...

An excuse given by the teenage London rioters was that they were bored. My first thought was, bored? Why don't they read books? Then I wondered if any of them ever had. It's sad. I was never bored as a child because I couldn't wait to hide from my Mum in a corner (she always wanted me to do housework) and read.
How lovely your Mother sounds. It's sad you can't share the birthday with her.

Petrea Burchard said...

Those are some snazzy credentials, LH. No wonder it's a good library system.

Bellis, I am also rarely bored. I was rarely bored as a child. I'm sorry to hear what you say. Some people seem to have forgotten what an imagination is and how to create interest. They expect it to be created for them.

Katie said...

Going to the library is a great way to honor your mother's memory, especially since she passed down her love of reading. Great to hear that Pasadena's libraries are thriving; they are a real asset to any community.

altadenahiker said...

For me, the library feels like one of the safest places on earth.

Happy Birthday to your mom.

Bellis said...

In one of the areas of London hit by the rioters, Waterstones, a large bookstore, was the only shop not looted. And it wasn't because they respected it.

Petrea Burchard said...

To be honest, Katie, I went to do some research. It just so happened it was Mother's birthday, too. I go often enough that it's no surprise I visited on her day.

Hiker, I don't know if I'd call my library feeling "safety." I feel safe there, yeah, but it's like I do my trespassing there. Maybe it's because at the library I'm safe to tread on unfamiliar ground.

Oh, that's rich, Bellis. That tells us all we need to know about the rioters. Surely a minority of the population then?

Susan Campisi said...

Lovely post and tribute to your mom. Reading is such a gift. It's a shame the London rioters had no awareness of that. They wouldn't have looted any stores if they had.

Christina said...

My grandmother was a librarian. This book-love is genetic, I agree!

Speedway said...

My dad read the encyclopedia the way some people read pulp novels. He's take a volume from our bookcase and lie on either the couch or the bed, soaking in whatever struck his fancy, following the path of words wherever their journey led.

He barely graduated from high school and, while he wasn't the most well-read man, I don't recall him ever reading trash.

Our encyclopedias, though somewhat outdated, were among my first introduction to the world outside my door.

Su_Tune said...

Always interesting to hear what's going on at that library, since I used to work there as a page. Loved that place. I was there (1989 or so?) when they did a major construction project and closed the whole thing for a few weeks. We had to move every single book. That was also when they made that whole downstairs periodical area. They used to only have a small one upstairs. Fun!

Petrea Burchard said...

Susan, if I were mad enough to riot, I'd loot books.

I agree, Christina, and I'll add that it doesn't have to be genetic. One can learn it even if one's parents don't hand it down.

Speedway, my husband also read the encyclopedia. He amazes me; he remembers it. We had a room in our house growing up that had floor to ceiling book shelves. It was my mother's library, and in it we had a full set of encyclopedias. Of course Dive would tell you it's "encyclopaedia," and he'd be right.

Funny, Su_Tune, the periodical area is the only part I find lacking! Perhaps it's due to funding, but it seems we have a limited variety of magazines. Or perhaps I'm not looking in the right place.

Speedway said...

Of course, Dive is right, but he is thaere and we are here, so e-d-i-a it is> :-D