Like the divine Margaret A., I am a lover of libraries.
We were taken to the public library frequently as kids, and were allowed to sign out five or six books at a time. Rather than reading them sequentially, I would read them all at the same time, hopping from book to book. I still read that way. I often have three or four books on the go at once.
When I hit school age, and we had access to the school library, I quickly tired of the picture book selection. I was an early reader; my mother taught me at home. I gravitated to the”chapter books”, but was told that section was off limits. I was somewhat agitated. Books had never been “off limits” to me. Mum magically sorted that out for me, and ever after I somehow had access to any book my little heart desired, as all children, in my opinion, should.
I volunteered in that library as a student at BPS. All kids of my generation remember Miss Lazzara and Mrs. Barnes, the librarians, tiny Miss Lazzara in her oversized cardigans and big glasses, and the awesomely buxom Mrs. Barnes and her violet tinted hair. Colleen and I spent many lunch hours carding and shelving books, and were rewarded with an afternoon tea. Afternoon tea! Splendid, to an Enid Blyton fan like me!
In highschool, my grade nine homeroom was in the library, which suited me fine. After grade nine, we would all meet there before going to our homerooms in the morning. We may have been a little loud. Sorry Mr. Jacques… Mrs. Astin! Whatever happened to her? She was a lovely woman.
I worked in the Bracebridge Public Library all through highschool, as well. I have fond memories of many hours working with Kit Boyer, Anna Crawford and Lis Rainey, and of poring through the stacks over forgotten oddities. “White Pills” – did anyone else ever read that rather odd book?
I always enjoyed working the Saturday morning Story Hour, often with Joy Manson, where old Mrs. Ruth Taylor would sit on the steps to the fire door and read to the little ones. She must be long gone now, but she was a lovely lady, and I think I enjoyed the stories as much as they did.
I remember Ian McTavish, the UC minister’s youngest son, lying on the floor in the children’s section all day reading Tintin comics, until his mum would call and ask us to send him home. I remember being sick in bed for a week and reading Mary Poppins and The Island of Adventure. I remember the time we found some expensive colour plate art books, nudes mostly, hidden in the bathroom (eww…). I remember the musty back storage room.
It was a wonderful building, full of light, with huge windows and ugly dark green roller blinds. It had beautiful woodwork, and a little balcony inside over the front entrance where Lis put the Christmas tree every year. I loved the heavy oak tables. Those tables were forever tables. They weren’t going anywhere.
The library was renovated years ago, expanded and updated. It was well done, so far as I can see from the outside, they kept the beauty and integrity of the original building intact. I’ve never been in, don’t know what it’s like. I’ve had dreams about it (one of them involved getting from section to section with a series of ziplines, waterslides and firepoles, but never mind that…). One day I’ll go and see, but part of me doesn’t want to. I’m pretty sure the big curved circulation desk in the children’s section is gone. I’ve lost touch with Lis, Anna and Kit. Anna and Kit must be long retired by now. There’s no more date stamps or card pockets. That little wooden box with all the pocket cards for signed-out books is probably long gone. The library will be gone one day, I think, the internet will be where we get all of our information. No more sorting and shelving, no more musty smelling books or browsing stacks.
That’s why I’ve never been in since the renovation so many years ago. Too many ghosts, and I think I just want to remember it the way it was. I spent a lot of happy, solitary hours there, and it very much formed who I am today.
I love you library.