When I was younger, we spent a lot of time inside libraries. It was a free way for my parents to entertain us. When I got older, I would ride my bike to the library on my father’s air force base and spend hours sorting through books on the paranormal and epic fantasy adventures. I did this on weekends and even through summer vacations. Eventually, I would learn that my grandmother used to work for a library. It kind of makes sense that I was comfortable sitting between the stacks of books, reading about ghosts and sword fights. It’s in my veins.
My family never really had a lot of money, so buying books was rare. Libraries were a free place for us, where checking out a dozen books didn’t feel like bankrupting our budget. It was a safe haven from the summer heat, and also where I could learn anything I wanted. To me, libraries were and still are magical.
One thing I remember very clearly from my grade school days was watching Matilda. In the very beginning, the main character ends up walking to the library everyday to read a tiny mountain of books. Eventually, the librarian gives her a library card, despite her young age. That scene actually made me want to work in a library for a long time. Giving people access to books felt like one of the most important jobs in the world. In a way, I think it still is.
In 2002, a Malawian teenager named William Kamkwamba built a windmill to power appliances from his home. He went on to build even more, and eventually made a solar powered water pump for his village. He did this by reading books he found in the library. It’s amazing what people can do, when given the resources.
Even in an age where electronic sources are taking over, I still feel that libraries have a place in our world. Lending programs such as Openlibrary and KDP are proof that online libraries are possible. They should be everywhere. Books aren’t something our country should be withholding and not being able to afford education doesn’t mean a person shouldn’t have access to it. Such a barrier is a detriment to our society.
Libraries have done more than just educate me. They gave me access to adventures and magic. I found a thousand creepy stories to recite at slumber parties. Even when things were crashing down around me, the books I found gave me a place to hide and recenter myself.
Whenever I go online and look at my account on KDP, I can see how many pages someone has read of my book through the lending library. It makes me happy to know that someone stumbled upon my book and enjoyed it enough to keep reading, even on their weekends. I feel almost like the authors I found hiding in my favorite libraries.
In the end, that’s all I ever needed.