Saturday, November 1, 2008

Hurray For Books

I love books! I have loved them since I was a little girl. When I was growing up, my family didn’t have a lot of extra money, so I didn’t own very many books, but the books I did own were precious to me. I treated them with respect and I cared for them much better than I did my toys. The first book collection I owned was the Trixie Belden Mysteries and these books still hold a special place in my heart.

My Granny Devine always told me to never, ever dog-ear the pages of a book and this is something I adhere to strongly. When I became a mother, this was also a lesson I taught my three girls. To me, dog-earing a book is a sign of disrespect and should be frowned on in all settings and societies.

Now that I’m older, my home library has grown by leaps and bounds. I have bookshelf after bookshelf full of wonderful books. I keep bookmarks in every room of my house, plus I also use those dang inserts from magazines as bookmarks – they’re made of cardboard, so they work nicely.

I don’t write in the majority of my books, unless it is an inscription of who bought me the book or when I received it. I also have many autographed books that are special to my collection. I do have a tendency to write in “self-help” books or in text books that are my own – this helps me if I’m studying something new. Other than that, I never write in a book.

I try very hard to keep the book jackets with the books, but sometimes this is hard, especially if it is a book that I like to reread. In that case, I’ll laminate the jacket cover, much the way the public library does to protect its books. This keeps the cover nice and clean and I don’t have to worry about tearing the cover every time I reread a book.

When it comes to checking books out of the library, I try to follow the same rules as with my own books. I always use a bookmark and I never dog-ear the pages. It makes me so mad to check out a book and find half the pages have been dog-eared at one time or another. I would also never think of writing in a library book, or anyone else’s book.

My earliest memories of the Mercer County Public Library are that the entire building used to be housed in the Historical Society. It still amazes me when I visit the Historical Society, how tiny this building really is! My mom would always take me to the library, sometimes several times a week.

When I started elementary school, I fell I n love with the school library. So many books! By the time I was in the 4th grade, I was a library assistant for Miss Joy, the librarian. I really thought I was something special. I would get to preview new books before they were ever put into circulation.

By the time I reached high school, I was sill visiting the library often, but I was getting lots of flack from my peers for reading so much. Looking back now, I shouldn’t have let this bother me, but you know how peer pressure can be when you’re a teenager – you try to fit in instead of being your own person.

Now as an adult, I visit the public library two or three times a week. The public library got a brand new building – in its current location – while I was still in grade school – and it has gone through several renovations since them.

Some of the biggest changes in the public library have been the addition of computers. There are several computer stations and it keeps the librarians busy scheduling computer time. This is a wonderful service for people who don’t have computers at home. Another big change over the past few years has been in the card catalog. Gone are the days of flipping through the drawers and cards in the old card catalog – now all you need to do is input a few words into the computer and you quickly learn the location of the books you are looking for. You don’t even need to know the exact name of the book; you can search just the author’s name or even a specific keyword.

Currently, the Mercer Public Library is working on plans for another expansion. I’m so excited! It is really wonderful when a library outgrows its space and has to expand. This tells me there are many people in our community are calling the library home.

Books have always been my friends, so I think they deserve the same kindness and consideration that I would give to a living friend. Books are our legacy and they will endure long after I have left this world.