If you were to ask me what influenced my interest in writing the most, I would answer without hesitation – growing up within walking distance of a public library.
I lived within a block of the library for most of my childhood, and I visited it on average two or three times each week. I still remember getting my very first library card when I was a kid. It was a sleek, silver piece of plastic that represented freedom and endless hours of reading virtually any book I wanted. I carried the card in my little plastic purse, feeling important every time I reached in to take it out and check out a stack of books. Often, I would walk home with a pile of books numbering over a dozen, reading the top one while walking.
I read everything I could get my hands on. My favorite series as a kid was the Baby-sitters Club, and I read every single copy that the library had in stock (and if you are familiar with this kids’ series, you know there are hundreds of titles). These books introduced me to a diverse group of characters from all different backgrounds and interests. I read all the Harry Potters, putting my name on the library’s hold list as soon as possible so that I could be first in line to read the newest release.
I checked out non-fiction books for school projects when I needed research material. I used the internet there during the time my family didn’t own a computer. When I got to high school, I saw the library as a quiet space to complete my homework when my living situation didn’t provide that. Being surrounded by so many books in such a happy place, I realized early on that I wanted to write things that would end up in libraries. I wanted to write like all those authors I admired; I wanted someone else to pick a book with my name on it off the shelf and find happiness with it, too.
Over the years, I developed a connection with libraries that I still have today. Walking into a library instantaneously improves my mood, and I love the concept of essentially “renting” a book for free and sharing it with the community. I guess this passion shows because it is a running joke with some friends that I am constantly mistaken for the librarian in public libraries! People often come up to me and ask me to help them find certain books or ask for information about the library’s services.
With my new practice of “living a life of writing,” I recently decided to volunteer at my local library once a week to help pay back some of that goodness that libraries have provided me. It is also a chance to surround myself with books on a consistent basis. Today was my first day, and I loved being able to help the librarians shelve books, even if to most people that task sounds tedious. I’ve never thought about how long it must have taken the librarians to shelve those hundreds (probably thousands) of books I’ve checked out over the years!
I am looking forward to getting more involved in my community and learning how to share my love for libraries with others. I also like being able to basically browse books at the same time I’m volunteering, so I get to make a running list of books I want to read. Taking this opportunity to introduce more writing-related time in my life is a huge step for me, and I can’t wait to share more of what I learn while helping out there.
Do you love your local library as well, whether it be public, personal, or even a tiny, free one? Or do you have more ideas for opportunities to surround yourself with writing consistently? Leave a comment below; I’d love to hear from you!