Behold! This is the library here on Venice Island. She's a beauty for sure. It's official name is, "The William H. Jervey Jr. Venice Public Library". Whew! That's a long name.
When we first moved here the library was completely different. The old library was a very squarey brick structure that felt like an old school house to me. Serviceable of course, but nothing fancy. It seems that it had a problem with mold though. And after addressing the problem over and over and OVER again for years, the town decided to just tear down the old one and start over. This is what they started over with. It's snazzy.
Before all this virus stuff descended upon us, I was at this library several times every week. Sometimes to teach my ESL (English as a Second Language) students and sometimes to restock my own pile of New Books to Read. This library, like all libraries, was a very familiar and comfortable place for me.
Here is the thing about me and libraries. We moved a lot when I was a kid. I mean a lot. And every time we moved I would have to adjust to new everything. A new house that had new sounds and new smells, a new neighborhood with new kids. There was a new school with new teachers and new rules, and people with new accents and new colloquialisms. While all of the travelling and moving certainly helped me to become a very adaptable adult, as a kid, sometimes it was hard.
Thank goodness some things didn't change, or at least they didn't change much. And one of those things was the local library. Oh the lady behind the desk had a different name and a different face, but her attitude was the same everywhere we lived. Hushing and stamping, hushing and stamping, that was pretty much what the librarian seemed to do. And that was fine. That was her job. And it was familiar to me. The buildings were certainly different from town to town, but the important part was that every town had one. Be it large or small, brick or stucco, new, old or on wheels, it was still a library and inside were books. Lots and lots of books.
And once I got the the stacks, the rows, the aisles, the shelves, I was in my happy place and it didn't matter where we lived or how different it was. The books were always the same.
Clearly I have an affinity for libraries. I have never lived in a town that didn't, at the very least, have a bookmobile. When I was a kid I visited weekly. When I was in college, it was more like a daily trip. When I was a young mother, my kids and I made weekly visits. There was even a special shelf in the house where library books were kept. Nothing else, just library books. That way, they never got lost. When you wanted to read, you stopped at the table and selected your book. When you finished reading for the day, you returned it to the shelf.
As the boys got older, somehow I stopped. I suppose I was too busy with working at my job and then coming home to work at my other job, being mom, wife and chief cook and bottle washer. There was very little time left for reading and I missed it terribly. But in all truth, I didn't even really have the time to miss reading very often. I was too busy being behind on everything that always needed to be done and forever trying to catch up.
And then we moved here. And life slowed down. And I got my new library card. And once again, while the exterior of the building was different, the books remained the same. In short order I developed a routine. I would take out 3 books at each visit. No more, no less. When I finished those books, I would go back for more. And then, I began volunteering as an ESL teacher at the library. They have these lovely dedicated rooms specifically for the purpose of tutoring. I became accustomed to those room in no time flat. It wasn't a change to adapt to so much as an expansion of my comfort zone. And for quite some time, that was my part of my new routine.
Until this past March. Everything came to an abrupt halt. And we had to adapt to something new once again.
As I said before, I am highly adaptable. I adjust. When I find a new shape in my life I then find a new way to be comfortable with it. But a void is harder to get accustomed to. And when the library doors closed, it wasn't just ending my work with my ESL students and removing hours of dedicated time every week from my schedule, it was also cutting off my book supply. ARGH!
But now, at long last, the library opened once again. Yay! And, to my great surprise, I did not rush right out to borrow books. What? I'm a shocked as you are. I'm not even certain why I didn't immediately zoom over to restock my pile of New Books to Read. But I did not. Not until yesterday.
Yesterday afternoon, I stuffed my pockets with my library card, my mask (of course) and reading glasses, put on my sneakers and sunscreen and walked on over. I knew it would be different inside, but of course I had no idea how different or in what ways. So I walked in, cautiously.
Naturally there were signs all over the place about masking, and not going in if you are sick and stickers on the floor to guide visitors in one and only one direction through the stacks. There were very few people inside but all of them wore masks. There was Plexiglass at the information desk manned by the masked librarian (sounds like a super hero doesn't it?). Aaaannnddnd that's about it for changes. Check out has always been self-check at our library. But the books, the books were, as they always are, the same.
I was not required to interact with a single person for the entirety of my visit. I selected my standard 3 books at random, moved over to the self-checkout, and then out the door and walked back home. On one hand, it felt very safe, the no human interaction part. On the other hand, it was kind of sad to have not even made eye contact with a single soul. Life keeps changing. And it will continue to do so. There isn't much that stays the same. It 's just a fact.
And yet, while libraries have updated with computers and other coolio techological advances of course, but they are still libraries at their heart, which means they are still filled with books. And books make me happy.
I'm already knee deep in the first book that I borrowed and I know the others will follow shortly thereafter. Then I will be back for more.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.