I went to see Neil Gaiman read and sign books in Santa Rosa, California recently. After he read from The Ocean at the End of the Lane, he answered some audience questions. One question was “What did you read as a child, and what influenced you?” The question was not a surprise but the answer was, a bit. Gaiman said that he read “everything. “My parents used to drop me off at the library when I was a child, and they would go off to work,” he said. “I started in the Children’s Library and read everything, starting with the As.” (Gaiman was quick to say that libraries should not be used for child care.)
This got me thinking about the first library I remember, and the one that I have the best childhood memories of. The first library I ever checked out a book from was in a little town north of us. It was a Dale Carnegie library, made of gray marble with a flight of steps and two tall pillars in the front. I had heard and read mythological stories and I thought it was a temple. The library I have the most vivid memories of, though, is my one-room grade-school library, which was in an outbuilding on the school property. It had two steps up to the door, with a gap between the stairs and the threshold of the library. There was a built-in heater that smelled like baking dust all winter long, and three walls covered floor to ceiling with books. I discovered Andre Norton in that library. The building would be condemned these days and was probably completely unsafe, but it was my treasure trove.
What is your first memory of a library? How did the library influence you when you were young? What is your most vivid memory? Please share! One random commentor will win a book from our Stacks.