It’s hard to imagine the pleasure so many of us will enjoy within the walls of our gorgeous new city library, the entertainment and education we’ll glean from fiction and nonfiction, the computer skills and information we’ll pick up, the authors, illustrators and entertainers we’ll meet, and the memories we’ll make.
Many of us who have called Washington home for eons have frequented the city library — the old, old location at the top of the stairs above the former city hall on Jefferson, followed by a brand new building just a block up. The years passed, the building aged, and something had to be done.
Now we have it, a state-of-the art library with plenty of parking, an elevator, a large meeting room and an atmosphere of serenity. Who could ask for anything more?
Not a book lover like me. As a young girl I grazed on titles delivered to my hometown of Gerald via a library on wheels. Thank goodness for Scenic Regional Library’s Bookmobile, for its stops outside Lizzie’s telephone office, where readers could climb aboard a book-lined vehicle to check out titles of interest to them.
My mother deserves the credit for taking me to Lizzie’s to load up with armfuls of titles. Like her mother, Bessie, before her, Mom was, and still is, a voracious reader. She and I always have a book going, and vigorous conversations ensue about characters and plots. More often than not we like the same titles, but that isn’t always the case. Sometimes we disagree on a book’s merits.
Passing down a love of reading, and modeling reading, is hands-down the best gift a parent can give their child. I received the gift and passed it along, grasping our two older daughters’ chunky little hands as we climbed the stairs to the old library on the top floor of city hall, one worn wooden step at a time.
When the new library was built, it was our youngest daughter’s hand that needed to be held, as her sisters walked along beside us, or ran ahead to get first dibs on titles they wanted to reserve.
On Sunday I couldn’t make it to the library’s grand opening. Our family had reservations at a brunch for our oldest daughter’s birthday. Our five grandchildren were there. Parker, the 2-year-old had to have “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” finished before she’d even consider accompanying us to the buffet, and Miles, now 9, hurried to bolt down breakfast so he could dive into a book I’d brought along from a Scholastic series he loves. Miles devoured it in nothing flat.
The other grandchildren, Avery, Phoebe and Reed, also relish being read to, and clamor for the books in a bag I bring along whenever we get together.
Walking into the new library on Friday evening, these children came to mind — I imagined Phoebe, 3, and Avery, 6, in the cute chairs in the children’s section, and Reed finding a quiet spot to lose himself in a book he’d chosen.
I also reminisced about book lovers in the area I’ve known through the years, people who have gone before us and benefited from the varied locations of Washington Public Library. They walked through the doors or up the creaky stairs, each with their own story, to check out stories in books that would enrich their lives.
This is the proud heritage that is the cornerstone of our new library, a natural-light filled building in soft, earthy tones that invite the outdoors in, and aptly blend upstairs and down.
Visit the library and be transformed, and grateful to those with the vision and insight to provide this literary giant step forward — individuals, city fathers and planners, voters and board members who gave their time and talent to provide us with a serene world that’s an absolute book heaven.