My Hometime Library
Hi, readers! When I was growing up in Princeton, New Jersey, one of my favorite places was the local public library. My love of reading was wonderfully nurtured here, and I never left without checking out a tall stack of books. As I got older, the library became my "home away from home," the perfect place to do my schoolwork, study for tests, and work on research papers and projects.
Because of these happy memories, I was excited to be invited back to Princeton to share a very special day with the town residents - the grand opening and dedication of the new public library. The construction of the building had taken several years and its opening was eagerly anticipated by the entire community. It was definitely worth the wait, because it is the most beautiful library that I've ever seen. In addition to all the usual features, it has a café, a library store, and a community living room (with a fireplace!) on the first floor. And with 115 computers with high-speed Internet access throughout the library, no one should ever have to wait very long for a turn. My favorite part of the library is the third floor, which is completely dedicated to children and has separate areas for preschoolers, grade schoolers and teens. I know how much the kids in town are going to love this. (I'm sure that my parents would have had to drag me out of there every day!)
I spent some time meeting readers and signing books, which I always enjoy. I was especially happy to see so many familiar faces from my old schools and my neighborhood turn out for this wonderful community event. There were many other authors, illustrators and artists on hand to help make the day special, along with guided tours, a puppet show, hands-on projects for kids, technology presentations, a cappella singers and special performances by jazz, rock, and rhythm and blues bands. The beautiful, sunny weather helped to make it a perfect day.
Visiting my hometown library reminded me of a "library" that my sister, Jane, and I started one summer. We alphabetized all our books, glued pockets on the back inside cover, and made date-due cards to go into the pockets. Friends and neighbors (or "patrons") would come into my bedroom (the "library") and check out a book for a specified number of days. Borrowers agreed to pay a penny-a-day fine for any overdue books. I remember when I insisted that Jane go over to a friend's house to collect a two-cent fine! The library lasted as long as most of our projects and clubs did - a few weeks at most - but it certainly shows how my love of libraries goes way, way back. And judging by the beautiful new Princeton Public Library, it's obvious that the residents of my hometown share this feeling with me.