When I was a kid, my mom took my brother and I to the local library at least once a week. We piled ourselves high with books (she had to limit us to 10 each) and headed to the desk that stood high above our heads. I watched as the librarians opened each cover or bag (remember the bags with hangers on the top that contained a book and a cassette tape?) and stamped that little index card. The sound of that stamp tool still makes me smile.
A few years later, in junior high, I spent most afternoons at that same library as part of my 7th grade North Carolina History Class. Mrs. Cable had us using microfilm machines to look up the history of sports teams in our area. I can’t remember what exactly came out of that project – and that was probably Mrs. Cable’s point – but I do remember the joy of finding things after scrolling pages and pages of microfilm.
As an adult, one of the first things I do, just after turning on the electricity and water, when I move to a new place is get a library card. I check out books in print and on audio, at least three or four every week, even though I own more books than I’ve read now. There’s just something about the library that makes me happy.
Today, I am getting on the road and going to THE LIBRARY, the Library of Congress. I’m going to spend a day and a half perusing their collections and looking for information about the people who were enslaved here. In particular, I plan to scan the American Colonization Society papers, their photograph collection, and any slave narratives they have available. I’m so eager to see what I can find. I won’t be checking anything out, but as Mrs. Cable taught me, sometimes the joy of the hunt is the point.
What is your best library memory?