The first time I walked into a library, I wasn’t much older than five. My then-seven-year-old sister was already reading at a sixth-grade level and my mother had fostered a love of literature …
The first time I walked into a library, I wasn’t much older than five. My then-seven-year-old sister was already reading at a sixth-grade level and my mother had fostered a love of literature in us both at the earliest opportunity. Growing up in a sprawling “Please Don’t Eat The Daisies” (check out the book!) Victorian house afforded us the luxury of a home library, which Mom had built shelves for out of cinder blocks, lovingly spray-painted gold. Don’t ask. They say the early years are the formative ones, and I see the wisdom in that now. Granted, I’m fortunate, for I had a mom who read aloud to me at bedtime, and I remember eagerly anticipating the next chapter of “Charlotte’s Web” and the adventures of “Rumpelstiltskin,” “Sleeping Beauty,” and that darn “Cat in the Hat.”
At eight, I read Madeleine L’Engle’s Newbery Medal winning “A Wrinkle in Time,” which I still credit with sparking my interest in science fiction, world religion, philosophy and the eternal struggle between good and evil—deep thoughts for an eight-year-old. An article in the Washington Post states that “the idea of conformity is one of the major themes in the novel, which was published during an era when communism thrived,” (yes, I’m that old) and that “L’Engle was not afraid to push buttons.” Hmmm.
Trips to the library were frequent, with or without my sister, who still calls to recommend the latest novel she has discovered. On one hand, nothing has changed. I continue to have a library card, and visit regularly— to check out books and DVD’s, but on the other hand... it’s a “Brave New World.” Last Thursday, I had the good fortune to catch a performance of Charlayne Woodard’s autobiographical play “Pretty Fire” at the Ethelbert B. Crawford Library (www.ebcpl.org) in Monticello. First published in 1995, “Pretty Fire” documents Woodard’s early life and was originally produced at the Oddysey Theatre in Los Angeles, garnering rave reviews and L.A. Drama Critics and NAACP awards for best play and best playwright.
Director Carol Montana and actress De Lois “Cookie” House have collaborated in the past, and this incarnation of Woodard’s one-woman show is not the first for the talented duo. Montana’s thoughtful direction, coupled with House’s dynamic and layered interpretation of Woodard’s powerfully written journey takes us from premature birth to discovering her voice, all of which combined to enthrall an enthusiastic audience. At the library. Live performances are just the tip of the iceberg at your local library, and when I heard that computer whiz Abram VanHassel was scheduled to present a workshop on “cutting the cord” at the Tusten-Cochecton branch of the Western Sullivan Public Library (www.wsplonline.org) in Narrowsburg, I registered for the free program. Although I had a rudimentary knowledge of
what “cutting the cord” meant, I was afraid to take the plunge and cancel my cable TV subscription without being well informed on the subject. VanHassel’s detailed presentation provided an in-depth look at the in’s and out’s of online streaming. “Smart” TV’s, “A la Carte” channel selection, and new providers like HULU, Sling TV, and ROKU, (whatever that is) have frightened old-fashioned me up until now, but VanHassel ably demystified the subject, and I feel well-armed enough to step out of my comfort zone and enter the “Brave New World” of cordless television consumption.
But wait—there’s more! Free programs like home school hangouts, teen book clubs, craft lovers activities, gong meditation and computer support are all waiting for you at your local library. In addition, there’s storytime, family fun game night, geneology classes and fascinating looks at things I know nothing about, like “Finding Balance with Ayurvedic Practice.” A lot has changed since eight-year-old me checked out “A Wrinkle in Time.” That first step led me on the path to becoming a writer, and I while credit my mother for instilling a lifelong love of all things literary, that first step began in a library.
Support yours. You’ll be glad that you did, IMHO.