Core Library Memories

By the wonderful Grace Farris. P.S. Magazine for your fourties and books for winter.… Read more The post Core Library Memories appeared first on Cup of Jo.

Core Library Memories

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February 10, 2024 7:40am 7:40 am

I’ve been a library user since birth! Or probably before because my mom was a frequent library patron while pregnant with me. Some of my best early memories involve snuggling up in a comfy chair in the children’s area of the library with a pile of my favorite books. And, once I got older, I could walk there from my house with a friend for the summer reading activities! When I had kids of my own, and was sometimes struggling with two under two while my husband was away from work, our library was a respite. I live in a different town, but could still walk to the library on a Saturday with my girls in their stroller and we had a nice, cool spot to (collectively) chill.
Fast forward to now: my girls are grown, and live pretty far away. I have always wanted to work at the library but went into an unrelated field after college. Our local library system had a part-time assistant job opening. Library assistants in our system don’t need an MLS so I was okay there. I decided that now was my time! I applied for the job and got it. I cut back to part-time in my other job and work at the library a few days a week. It’s so rewarding and lovely and I enjoy it so much! I was so excited to get a note from a patron about how much she loved a book I recommended. So, friends, lifelong dreams can come true :)

February 10, 2024 2:03am 2:03 am

The library was my happy place when I was a child. From age 9 I was allowed to go by myself and I went every week. It wasn’t huge, the children’s section was only 2 small walls of shelving but it was peaceful there and everyone was kind. We had no money for books so being able to choose new ones every week was the biggest joy. When I had my own children we lived in a small village with a tiny library, we made a weekly pilgrimage there for books and play. I have many happy memories of visits there with my children for story time and special school holiday activities. There was once an activity that was about teddy bears and people were asked to bring along their favourite bears, so many people came that they couldn’t fit everyone in the building. I was very sad when it closed, our county council closed most of the local libraries, only leaving the big ones in city centres, this denies access to so many people. To this day, I am still a little bit jealous whenever I spot a local library and I always say out loud that they are lucky enough to have such a good place.

February 10, 2024 12:18am 12:18 am

Librairies have saved us so many times! We like to go when we’re traveling (especially if the weather is bad in a small town and my 2yo needs new scenery). I think I chose my PhD program because the library took my breath away! (Widener— didn’t yet know that I’d mostly be in the freezing stacks and not the majestic foyer, lol.) In Paris this year, we have a whole itinerary of local libraries, each with their own advantages and disadvantages — in other words, we swiftly replicated our library life back home. Shout out to Louise Michel in the 20e: small and mighty!

February 9, 2024 10:47pm 10:47 pm

Libraries. In a world full of problems, one thing that is so plainly, wonderfully, amazingly right and good. 🩷

February 9, 2024 8:57pm 8:57 pm

When I was a kid I did not enjoy reading or the library. After I was all done with school, I started reading for pleasure and now I love reading and I love the library. I go to the library all of the time, it is one of my favorite places.
I can explore so many things in the library and the librarians are amazing. They are always so patient and helpful.
Discovering and appreciating the library as an adult has been very special to me.

February 9, 2024 8:12pm 8:12 pm

Ahhhh, I wanted to be a librarian when I was a kid, but have settled for many, many years (still ongoing) of volunteering in several of our school district’s libraries. Our daughter is an academic librarian, our son is access services manager at a university library, and his fiancee works full time at his library and has just started working on her MLIS. We love books, libraries, and super hero librarians! So many wonderful memories of so many libraries throughout my lifetime.

February 9, 2024 7:37pm 7:37 pm

Professional librarian chiming in! Love to see all these happy memories and positive associations. I get so much joy from seeing people use our services! I have worked at libraries for most of my adult life and I’m always amazed that libraries haven’t lost their magic for me. Sometimes I get off work at my library (at a community college) and go straight to the public library nearby just to relax and unwind!

February 9, 2024 6:45pm 6:45 pm

Is there a weekend link post coming???

February 9, 2024 6:59pm 6:59 pm

yes, sorry it was delayed! I had a wild rollercoaster of fraud stuff this weekend and had to close my bank accounts (of 20 years!) and disable my phone number (sob!!!). it’s been a WEEK. xoxo

February 9, 2024 9:06pm 9:06 pm

Sad haiku:

Why have you come after
me chaos gods?
I liked that number…

February 9, 2024 11:22pm 11:22 pm

@Joanna Goddard, I’m so sorry you are dealing with fraud and all the resulting bank and phone troubles! That sounds absolutely awful! I hope you can recover this weekend.

February 10, 2024 7:39am 7:39 am

Andrea, that haiku is amazing!

February 9, 2024 6:39pm 6:39 pm

I also have a fond memory of the smell of my first library! It was in a public parc, close to a natural history museum.
This place had something something magic and mysterious to me…
Thank you for bringing back these souvenirs!

February 9, 2024 6:20pm 6:20 pm

Sending a huge thank you to all the librarians out there. The library is a magical haven and I still visit when looking for somewhere for my mind to travel and rest from the chaotic world.

February 9, 2024 6:02pm 6:02 pm

Another librarian with a lifetime of treasured core library memories and short term library memories! Introducing your kids to the wonder made me feel the most seen — “can we go now?” 😂 So grateful for the solidarity!

February 9, 2024 5:45pm 5:45 pm

I still can recite the 10 digit number of my first library card. I still have the physical card in my memory box! The library was my first third space and represented one of my interactions with the world as an individual.

February 10, 2024 12:12am 12:12 am

Same, Andrea!!! It’s forever in my brain!

February 9, 2024 4:58pm 4:58 pm

I loved my childhood library days when I was younger. My mom would take her little crew of 4 kids and we’d load up milk crates of books to pour over. I want to love taking my own 4 kids to the library down the road from us, but the ubiquity of screens and “kid computers” that are at the entrance to the children’s section make it incredibly difficult to walk past without my kids screaming and throwing fits to play on the computers, especially my 3 year old. I’ve spoken the the library manager and a few librarians about removing these or simply moving them so they aren’t the very first thing kids see, but I’ve been met with 0 help in this area. Any suggestions?

February 9, 2024 7:07pm 7:07 pm

Set expectations before you go in. “We can do screens at home. We’re here to look at books. If you finish looking at books before we’re all ready to leave, you can play with the toys (or whatever your library has out).” They do stop asking after a few visits when they see that the screens really are not an option.

February 9, 2024 11:12pm 11:12 pm

Great solution, Erin. There will always be challenges that kids will have to learn to accept vs just having temptation removed. When they achieve it, compliment their effort.

February 9, 2024 4:47pm 4:47 pm

Yes!! I’ve always been one to try new hobbies, and the library has been key. I remember navigating the Dewey decimal system for the first time as a 9- or 10-year-old to find a book about my latest obsession (polymer clay). I felt so proud and independent, like I could learn anything!

On that note, I LOVE that our local library has sewing machines to check out, a creative lab with 3D printers and other cool tech, and a seed library. We can learn anything!

I love the library.

February 10, 2024 1:28am 1:28 am

Celeste, are you in Los Gatos, CA???

February 10, 2024 2:06am 2:06 am

Yes!! So interesting to see how libraries are changing to be about books and more! One of the few ‘third places’ these days where you can just BE without an expectation of financial exchange.

The maker spaces, 3D printing, cricuts and seed libraries!!. Also our local libraries have lots of STEAM programming. Librarians are also doing some really important advocacy work against book bans

February 9, 2024 4:25pm 4:25 pm

Air conditioning! Growing up in a tiny ranch home in the unincorporated part of a wealthy Chicago suburb, cranking the windows closed and cranking up the AC in the summer was a rare luxury. On the hottest days, my mom would deposit me at the public library, and I’d spend the entire day in the cool air beneath its soaring ceilings, searching through encyclopedias, tucking myself into quiet study carrels, or exploring the magazines in the adult section upstairs. I didn’t have a library card since we lived in the unincorporated part of town; we’d have had to pay for that privilege–an “extra” that my parents couldn’t afford. Seared in my memory: the day an envelope arrived in the mail, addressed to me and without a return address, containing a library card bearing my name. To this day, I don’t know who sent it (though we had our suspicions about those lovely, nurturing librarians who came to know me as a frequent patron). Life changing. Isn’t that an incredible gift?!

February 9, 2024 4:56pm 4:56 pm

That is delightful.

February 9, 2024 5:47pm 5:47 pm

The anonymous library card! I love it.

February 9, 2024 6:16pm 6:16 pm

Krista, this is one of the nicest memories I’ve heard. How heartwarming! You must have carved a treasures place in their hearts as well. Thank you for sharing!

February 9, 2024 6:32pm 6:32 pm

That’s a wonderful story Krista!

February 9, 2024 6:56pm 6:56 pm

<3 this so much!

February 9, 2024 10:21pm 10:21 pm

Oh my gosh, the first few lines of this are my exact childhood (including living in a tiny house in a wealthy Chicago suburb, when we decidedly were not); I thought maybe my sister wrote this comment! The library was across the street from our house, and the only cool place I could escape to in the summer. The feeling of being so welcome there was partially inspiration for why I became a librarian myself. :) I love that someone sent you a card. That is the spirit of librarianship, right there.

February 9, 2024 11:25pm 11:25 pm

Wow, that gift of a library card is just wonderful and made me tear up. Thank you for sharing.

February 9, 2024 4:16pm 4:16 pm

My childhood library actually had a resident wombat for a while.

February 9, 2024 5:56pm 5:56 pm

What? WHOA. Every library needs a wombat! My childhood library had a large, open basement where the children’s section was housed. We could make all the racket we wanted during the summer reading programs, and never bother any of the grown-ups upstairs. It was magical to my younger, bookworm self, and I thought all public libraries had a basement like that, just for the kids. (They do not.) Every time I drive by that former library building, it warms my heart.

February 9, 2024 11:23pm 11:23 pm

My childhood library kids section was the whole lower level too. So many memories. I spent SO much time there. If there’d been a wombat I might have spent even more!

February 9, 2024 4:05pm 4:05 pm

Ah, this one goes straight to my heart. I thought I was the only one with core library memories… but of course not. Thanks Grace Ferris!

February 9, 2024 3:47pm 3:47 pm

Yes! I discovered Red Hot Reads at the library (not hot as in sexy). You can only have them a week so I love the personal challenge to smash through a new-ish release book in a week. Dork!

February 9, 2024 3:33pm 3:33 pm

Also a public librarian, and I love these! It’s so exciting to watch patrons making core library memories!
I’m always excited when Grace has a bookish cartoon :)

February 9, 2024 3:27pm 3:27 pm

To this day it is unclear to me if I actually hooked up in my library’s stacks one night in college, or whether I have just dreamed about it so intensely I think I did! Either way it was hot!! ;)

February 9, 2024 3:15pm 3:15 pm

The joy of getting an email that your book on hold has arrived!

February 9, 2024 3:48pm 3:48 pm


February 9, 2024 6:59pm 6:59 pm

Yes! Or the Libby app notification telling you it’s your turn! I have audibly squealed.

February 9, 2024 3:03pm 3:03 pm

I could vividly relate to all but the lower right corner. :) I’m in the raising kids/working and too busy to ready anything for fun era right now, but eventually I’d love to relate to that one to. My elementary school library was so magical, the smell for sure, but my very favorite part of it was a set of carpeted built in risers/big stairs that we all sat on while our librarian read books to us. Everyone could see the pictures, and they were so comfortable! I would love to visit that school and see if those stairs are still there, I sure hope they are. Best library design ever!

February 9, 2024 2:59pm 2:59 pm

Recently saw a TikTok posted by a school librarian asking you to post to the comments the book that made you fall in love with reading and she would comment back if it was still popular with students today. What a walk down memory lane. Love libraries so much!

February 9, 2024 2:42pm 2:42 pm

New library memory from just this week – choosing seed packets from the new seed library located between the CDs and reference books. Will the Painted Mountain Corn seeds that my 6 year old chose actually grow? Only time will tell. The marigolds definitely will. But like, free seeds AND BOOKS?!?!? Heaven.

February 9, 2024 3:54pm 3:54 pm

omg. are you at MY seed library? in New West? I’m so happy SO many people love it. I’m really proud of it!

February 9, 2024 5:12pm 5:12 pm

Oh my gosh YES!!!!!!!! I grew up in New West and sometimes put books on hold there when it is taking too long at the VPL! Love to have a few suburb backup libraries in my pocket for when I need them.

Anyways! The seed library is the absolute best. Thank you for all of your work!!!!!

February 9, 2024 8:26pm 8:26 pm

Amazing. We librarians are so so happy people love our services and that they actually find them useful! Good luck with your seeds!!

February 9, 2024 2:31pm 2:31 pm

Yes to all of those! My childhood love of our local library made me choose librarianship as a career and I’ve never regretted it.

February 9, 2024 2:07pm 2:07 pm

Love this 😍😍😍

February 9, 2024 2:05pm 2:05 pm

Halfway through second grade, my teacher gave me permission to get up and sneak off to the library when I finished my work. Heaven! I remember the librarian just pointing me at the solid-yellow shelf of old Nancy Drew hardcovers and telling me to knock myself out. Every once in a while I’ll hear the phrase “Titian hair” and am instantly cross-legged on industrial carpet, insulated from teasing.

February 9, 2024 3:27pm 3:27 pm

Titian hair:-) Different library, same industrial carpet, same yellow books!

February 9, 2024 1:42pm 1:42 pm

My sister moved back to our hometown in adulthood and realized how comfortable she was at the library (we had spent much of our childhood there and she even worked there in high school) when every time she went she had to poop. She felt relaxed and found the tiny bathroom at the back of the adult stacks the best place to relieve herself. 😂

February 9, 2024 1:39pm 1:39 pm

So many memories as a student! Reading standing and crying my first book from Hervé Guibert -a french gay writer who wrote about aids as he was getting sick and dying. at the Pompidou library the most amazing place. Going through photography books of french propaganda against jewish citizens during WWII, a shock that would change my life, at the same Beaubourg library. Oh kissing this toxic man i was infatuated with at Reading University’ s library as an Erasmus student… and yes, the research room at the Sorbonne library, i would dream through old maps of the cook island and fancy that Phd law student with his strong perfume…

February 9, 2024 1:23pm 1:23 pm

As a librarian at a public library, this makes me so happy. We wouldn’t exist without all you awesome library lovers.

February 9, 2024 1:21pm 1:21 pm

I worked in my college’s library all through school and once my boss found an empty beer or two and a “wrapper,” and seemed to be asking if I was to blame! Aww, to be young again.

February 9, 2024 1:19pm 1:19 pm

Libraries!!! I have my family’s four-digit library number committed to heart, oh those were the days where you could find it hand-written on the check-out card. (I’m only 42!) That’s one thing I miss – now raising a library-loving family and I bet we’d be able to see the repeat history of checking out the same beloved picture book over the years.
Also – the room with the adult fiction books where I’d wander in and read Danielle Steel. I loved how earlier this week she was called out as tame. I get it now, but gosh 14 year old me couldn’t get enough.

February 9, 2024 1:14pm 1:14 pm

Oh my gosh. I love this one. I have so many memories of going to the tiny, one-room library in the suburbs with my mom and brother when I was a kid–moving from getting books in the kids section to chapter books. Then, in college, walking up and down the stacks and finding books I’d never heard of or imagined (and yes the fantasies of amorous encounters, ha, I thought I was the only one). Now, fully formed adult (if that’s even a thing), I have a neighborhood library in SF that I’m fully obsessed with. It’s right next to Golden Gate Park and I love to pick up my books on a Saturday morning and then stroll in the park with them.

February 9, 2024 1:13pm 1:13 pm

I love libraries!
Just a quick note that the banner that runs across the bottom sometimes-like today-prevents me from being able to read the dialogue in the bubbles.

February 9, 2024 12:55pm 12:55 pm

When I was pregnant with my first, I remember seeing a woman walk around with a baby in a carrier and feeling giddy that would be me in a few months. Then the pandemic happened and our library was closed for the better part of a year. I cried the first time that I took my son in a carrier to pick out books. The library has always been a source of comfort and calm to me, and now even more so as a mom of two. I love watching my kids pick out new books to bring home with us. There is something so magical about a public library!

February 9, 2024 12:45pm 12:45 pm

My mom didn’t get paid for her work (at home full-time with me and my brothers), and she took us on weekly library walks. We would lug home enormous bags of new books and spend the afternoon reading them. Definitely one of my top childhood rituals, maybe THE top one.

February 9, 2024 12:41pm 12:41 pm

I had a whole fantasy life with Library Guy my freshman year of college and then… it happened and we hooked up. Life was better in fantasy than practice for so many reasons but it still was a moment of that OMFG IT’S ALL HAPPENING energy that was so deeply satisfying & sexy.

February 9, 2024 12:27pm 12:27 pm

LOVE this! Got all the tingly feelings reading and remembering!

xoxo, a library nerd

February 9, 2024 12:19pm 12:19 pm

Oh, I’ll play, too!
– Learning to locate my first favorite book series (Betsy-Tacy) in my hometown library at age 6
– As a teen, walking to the library on summer days and picking an aisle at random to explore
– Finding the cubical in the area of the university library that no one ever visited for the _serious_ studying
– Hauling grocery bags of books after passing on my love of libraries to my kids (books! for free!)

February 9, 2024 12:41pm 12:41 pm

I loved Betsy-Tacy! Wow, I need to reread them.

February 9, 2024 1:08pm 1:08 pm

Totally in the phase of hauling bags of books home from the library for my 7yo! I love it and we get to go together as our thing. He’s even more excited about the library since he found out you can check out video games!! Local libraries are a gem and under utilized resource.

February 9, 2024 1:12pm 1:12 pm

We LOVE Betsy-Tacy!!

February 9, 2024 12:18pm 12:18 pm

Oh wow, this is so relatable. I am 42 and I seriously think about my childhood/teenage library experiences All The Time. I was obsessed with wolves as a kid, and the library had every Jack London book right there waiting for me. As an adolescent all I wanted to do read was every Baby-Sitters Club book over and over and over again, and the library came through for me on that one too (along with a librarian who didn’t judge the fact that a 15-year old was checking out books meant for the 8-12 crowd). In high school I was most definitely not allowed to buy Seventeen magazine, but luckily the library always had the latest issue tucked into a plastic library magazine cover waiting for me after school. My library memories are in a lot of ways some of my most solitary memories, but also some of my most important, and the libraries themselves are imprinted on me and my core person-ness in some indelible way.

February 9, 2024 11:59am 11:59 am

I used to study (and work) in my university’s library stacks. Somedays I dream of being back, deep within the stacks, holed up at some desk. It was so cozy but also a bit eerie. Go Bears!

February 9, 2024 11:54am 11:54 am

Libraries are such an underrated treasure trove – if you haven’t been to yours lately, I highly recommend it!

My daughter and I have recently been exploring our local libraries’ kids areas – beyond books (and cool bean bags for reading), there are play kitchens, puppet theaters, puzzles, train tables, etc. Such a life saver in these doldrums of winter — and a super low-key play date idea with friends.
We’ve also been having fun checking out new-to-us board games and puzzles for home.

February 9, 2024 11:52am 11:52 am

I fell in love with my husband in the stacks of our college library, so I adore this cartoon. Grace Farris, you’re a gem!

February 9, 2024 11:41am 11:41 am

favorite Grace Farris ever — LOVE!