I was in fifth or around that grade when we discovered another library in the area. This was heaven sent. Truly. Two libraries now! We had gone to Sunbury a few times to the seed store or the vet. I had no idea that the large three-storied building in the middle of the grassed square was a library. One day my father parked the car, and we walked into the building (I believe it is the village hall these days). Same wonderful smell upon opening the door. The children’s area was on the second floor. My sister and I raced up those steps several times over the years to grab the latest Beverly Cleary book off the shelf often arguing who had it first, but quietly, of course.
The Community Library of Sunbury had a different vibe. Perhaps it was because one of the library clerks was a family friend or that it was more informal. It had different materials for circulation. The library had record albums patrons could check out. Records. I flipped through them recognizing no one. We always listened to music on the radio. We just received our grandmother’s old record player that was inside a big piece of furniture that held records as well. My sister and I had listened to the old 45s that came with it. We had never listened to an album of modern music.
The library had classical music as well as rock and roll. This opened up a whole new world for me. My sister and I spent hours listening to albums and learned how to carefully lift the needle when it came on a song we did not like. I couldn’t wait to return them and get more. It never occurred to me then that people bought these sort of things and kept them in their homes. We never spend money on music. Our only records were given to us as castoffs or borrowed from the library.
Another new discovery for me were the comic strips in the 741.5 section of the library. I had read comics in the Sunday paper, when and if we bought one. There were whole books full of my favorite comics and ones I never heard of before. I was learning about humor.
Later on, in my middle school years, I discovered a whole area of paperbacks under the staircase. I recall reading two of Erma Bombeck’s books: The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank and If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I doing in the Pits? I also found the Judy Blume books which opened up a new world for me.
The library also had magazines. I loved magazines. I never read the articles as they were long but I enjoyed looking at all of the beautiful people with perfect hair, clothes, and shoes. I wanted to be just like them when I grew up. I had not heard of airbrushing yet.
It wasn’t until I was in high school when we discovered yet another library in the area. Really. My parents were not curious people. I assumed they knew everything, so I never thought to ask if there were more libraries in the area we could go to next.
I was too young to understand the importance of the Delaware County District Library and the Community Library of Sunbury while I was in school. We did not have a school library in fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, or eighth grade. Reading was not celebrated. I did not own books that were my reading level. Our school did not have a library for intermediate readers. The public libraries were the places for me. I felt the same awe and beauty upon entering those libraries as when I went to church at St. Mary’s. We went to the public libraries twice or four times a month, depending on my parents. I would have gone every day if kids were allowed to drive.
If we had not gone to those two public libraries all those years, I’m not sure if I would have become a reader. There just was not anything really to read at school other than the textbooks and those were so boring. Thank you, Delaware and Sunbury, for having libraries that helped me become the reader and librarian I am today!