Would you like to hear about the time I killed a man in cold blood and got away with it? Or, I could tell you about the time that someone killed me and I was trapped between this world and the afterlife for several hundred years. How about that one time – the time when I survived a zombie apocalypse? Have I told you that story yet?
I have done these things, and more, because of the library.
I have traveled aboard spaceships and taken exotic vacations to planets that don’t exist. I have stumbled into parallel realities through wardrobes, paintings, and hidden portals in the backyard shed. I have colonized worlds. I have lived on a moon base. I’ve been abducted by aliens and lived through a nuclear winter. I’ve actually survived several zombie apocalypses – not just the one.
The library was where I fell in love with dragons, unicorns, and elves, and then brought them home to play with in my imagination. I found monsters in the library, as well. They hid themselves in the pages between shadowy book covers with titles rendered in red, made to look like dripping blood. They disguised themselves as teenaged girls, classic cars, and the family pet. They kept me awake all night with the lights on and my head hidden underneath the covers.
I got to check out my first library book when I was six. The school librarian selected “Why Do Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears?” for me. I took it home. I read it. I read it again. I read it a third time. I returned it, and the next time, I got to choose my own book. This was the start of my life-long love affair with the library.
When I got a little older, my parents started taking me to the public library once a week. I would haul home stacks of books on Thursday night and have read them all by Sunday. Soon, we started going twice a week, because I couldn’t seem to get enough books to read.
Books were my escape. I learned to shut out the real world and live in worlds that I got to choose. I got to be whoever I wanted to be, and adventure in places that none of my friends had ever visited.
As I got even older, I discovered that the library was a place where I could also learn. I was attracted to the metaphysical, ESP, UFOs, aliens, and ghosts. I chose to blend my reality with the unknown and the unexplainable, like the stories that I had fallen in love with and cherished growing up.
Because of the library, I developed a rich imagination. I learned to seek out knowledge rather than sit in a classroom and let it come to me. I was able to look at ideas that seemed far-fetched and formulate a plan of action to discover for myself whether or not there was any truth to them.
My senior year in high school, I decided that I would write my term paper on whether or not Robin Hood and King Arthur really existed. I wanted to know. I was sure that they did – how could they not? Isn’t all fiction based in fact? I spent weeks in the library, poring over books and taking notes. I investigated histories, looked for parallels, and drew conclusions. I wrote my paper, and got an A plus.
Did King Arthur really exist? Did Robin Hood?
The answer is yes. They were real men who did noble deeds and were immortalized through fantastic legends, which grew even more fantastic as the centuries wore on. History has forgotten their real names, of course, but it is doubtful that they would be remembered at all, if it weren’t for the library.
I have loved the library ever since I was six years old and that school librarian placed my first library book in my hands. I have learned much there, and have had many great adventures. This is why I have chosen to be a librarian. I want to be able to help other people learn to love the library as I have. It is a magical place where anything is possible – even surviving a zombie apocalypse.