The Local Library

North Berkeley Library

North Berkeley Library - My Local Branch

Ever since I can remember I’ve loved going to the library. From childhood, my sister and I would meticulously pour over the rows, examining each spine for a spark of recognition. Sometimes we would go with a list, and dart in and around the book cases searching for a much sought after edition. Growing up, I remember our mother belonging to several local libraries because one was close to our house, one had an impeccable children’s collection, another one had a great selection of videos. Then of course there is that early memory in first grade of signing up for my very own library card. I don’t recall the first books I took out under my name, but I remember the pride and pleasant warmth of feeling so grown up as I became a true custodian of books.

I’m still a sucker for that crackle you hear when you open a hardcover library book and its plasticky cover crinkles open. And that musty smell that only comes from hundreds of books congregating so close together. Although, I must admit my adult love for libraries has been somewhat put on hold in recent years. When I was younger, there were so many older books that I wanted to read and it was much easier to go to the library and find them waiting there for me like secrets tucked away in corners. However as the years passed, I worked through my list and was getting more familiar with contemporary authors, I found myself going to the library and being #38 in line to check out The Golden Compass or The Hunger Games. Hunting through the stacks in libraries was transferred to perusing local indepedent book stores that specialized in used books. But it wasn’t the same.

Last week, my local library branch in North Berkeley re-opened its doors after two years of renovation and I ventured over to take a look. It’s a small library, originally built in 1936, rose terracotta on the outside with arched entryways and vaulted ceilings making the inside feel open and spatious. There are two wings, the children’s and the adult sections, each one centered around a gas fireplace with deep armchairs.

After browsing the adult wing, I turned to the children’s and discovered an incredibly diverse YA section. Scouring the shelves I saw many books that I hadn’t been able to find used or new, two that stood out to me were Julie Hearn’s The Minister’s Daughter and Diana Wynne Jone’s Unexpected Magic: Collected Short Stories. I couldn’t believe my eyes! Quickly I glanced surreptitiously over at the only other occupants in the room, a father reading a story to his three year old daughter and scooped up the books and rushed to the self check out counter.

Perhaps just enough time has passed so that the books on my ‘To Read List’ are now less coveted by other readers, or perhaps this new library branch hasn’t been rediscovered by all the locals yet. For whatever reason, I am once again thrilled to be able to update my status to: in an active relationship with my library.


4 thoughts on “The Local Library

  1. I will admit when I was a child and even as I grew up I felt (and still do feel) so safe in a library, perusing the shelf in hope of finding an interesting story. I have always been someone who is always looking for a good story. That’s probably why I like movies and at times tv shows so much. But like you I love to open books and hear the sound of me turning pages. That is one of the reasons I could never find entertainment in a kindle etc.

  2. I still love libraries. I can’t take any books out…at least not in my city…due to an unfortunate instance which I will not relate here. >;< But I still go and take my laptop and use their wireless, even though I have plenty at home. It's the atmosphere. The emotions in the air ranging from the excited mental (and sometimes not-so-mental) squeals of kids getting their first books, to the gloom-and-doom that hangs over the older children "forced" into reading for school…and I love watching/feeling that gloom lighten as they read, and begin to get into it. 😉 (Hey, it happens sometimes!)

    I have two favorite library related stories. One, when I was 6 yrs. old. I spent a month by myself (I got to ride a plane! For the first time! By myself!) out in Coronado with my grandparents. Of course we did the usual things…Zoo, Wild Animal park, Balboa park and the merry-go-round…and a few unusual things…dinner downtown at a fancy mexican restaurant with tablecloths and guys with instruments wandering around playing at people. Throwing rotting tomatoes at…I mean with…my 4 yr. old cousin in her backyard garden. Going to the local liquor store with my uncle for "candy"…really…that's all he bought there. (Pshyeah, right.) Stuff like that. But obviously there were times in between, times that a relatively (at least mentally) active 6 yr. old needed entertainment. Enter the Coronado Island library. It was the first outside-of-school library I can remember going into, and it remains my favorite today. I can draw-with-words each and every room in that building. But when I was 6, it was fascinating. Of course, I was reading chapter books by that time…even struggling through some of my grandmothers paperbacks she didn't know I could read so she left in "my" bedroom. (I still remember "Coffee, tea, or me?", a slightly raunchy book about a handful of airline stewardess' and their "adventures". 😉 ) So when my grandma (my Nonie) insisted that I join the summer reading club, I wasn't so up for it. Then I heard about the plants. The idea was, for every 7 books you read and could write/tell at least a paragraph about, you got a little plant in a styrofoam cup. I had seen the list of books "appropriate" for my age group…and my sneaky little heart rejoiced. Suffice it to say that I got over 45 plants that month…some of which Nonie was still giving clippings away from 5 yrs. ago before she died. And I was 37. *blinks*

    That took longer than I meant, so I'll spare you the other one for now. 😉

    Thanks for the memories…


    Also…DW-J totally rocks my world!!

  3. Pingback: The Minister’s Daughter « Gathered Nettles

  4. Pingback: Unexpected Magic: Collected Stories by Diana Wynne Jones « Gathered Nettles

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