I, Valerie Comer, didn't meet a library until I was twelve years old. The school I attended for the first few years was held in a three-classroom building containing grades one through seven with no library (and no gym, either, but that's another story!). Each classroom had a cupboard in the back full of books--way more books than we had at home.
Not because my parents weren't readers, although they preferred nonfiction. But because we didn't have a lot of money for extras, and reading material wasn't easily accessible. Books were treasures, special gifts for birthdays and Christmas. This is how I met Heidi and romped with her in the Swiss Alps. This is how I met The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew and learned that my family was really quite wealthy. We had paper and pencils, which were major treasures to the Pepper children! And this is how I met The Borrowers, starting a life-long love affair with fantasy.
Because rural Manitoba (Canadian province) had so few public libraries, the University of Manitoba offered a mail-order lending library. I remember poring over the catalogue to choose books--yes, kids' fiction as well as adult books--and having them arrive in a brown cardboard box in the mail. In a few weeks we mailed them back with an order for more.
Although in seventh grade I attended a larger school with a room set aside for books, I didn't live in the same town as a public library until I was a married adult. Even then money was tight and choosing books to bring home was a highlight of the week for both my husband and I, both avid readers.
I can't begin to count the hours of my life that have found me in some other place--either various countries of our world or places that exist only in the imagination--all thanks to the public library. The photo shown is the circulating desk in my current local library.
What are your earliest library memories? What books do you remember from your childhood?