Let’s-Give-It-More-Credit Card

Newport Public Library Newport, Oregon

I am rounding the corner of the circulation desk reserved books in hand when I hear the crystal clear high-pitched voice, “Thank you for my library card.” I turn to see a little boy, maybe six, clutching his books and smiling up at the man behind the desk.

“You’re welcome. Happy reading!” There’s a woman standing in front of me who’s heard the exchange, too, and our eyes catch. She’s mirroring my expression: delight. “Music to my ears,” I say as I push open the door to the world outside.

“When I got my library card, my life began,” Rita Mae Brown says, and though I can’t pinpoint when that moment happened for me, I do remember the children’s room at the Multnomah County Library, the seemingly endless shelves of books for me to read there. It continued to be my library through high school. I fainted there once, falling sideways off a chair while reading a visceral description of a teen’s assault and awakened to the concerned face of a librarian. I was always an engaged reader, and a fast one. Soon buying books became unreasonable; my mom made sure to ferry me frequently for a perpetually renewed supply. Then the bookmobile began coming to my school, predictably parking outside, to feed my whetted appetite. Oh, the places I could go!

Recently my sister and I had decided to visit a market for our afternoon adventure. She has relocated to Acapulco and we had connected in Mexico City for an “hermanas” get-together. This afternoon our other sister decided to stay at our airbnb. She’s the world traveler, and one more market wasn’t high on her list. After reading Trip Advisor we settled on:


Each night I had opened the young adult novel I’d brought from home to read a bit before sleep claimed me. The night before, my sister had said, “Man, you have no idea how much I miss the library. It’s something I didn’t think about before we moved here, but now…Books, books I can read in English, choices, lots of them. It might be what I miss most!” She went on to explain that she downloaded from various services—of course there are options—but it wasn’t the same as having a public library right there in town, one that held choice inside its walls, choice for a person who has not yet mastered that second language.

Poignant serendipity then as we made our way in the direction of the market and passed through this: Biblioteca de Mexico “Jose Vasconcelas”

These photos don’t do the stunning space justice. (Google images, do, however, so check them out!) What we quickly realized in passing through is the community that thrives here. Activities of every type abound. The view through windows invited us to come in, sit down, spend some time lost between the stacks. Unfortunately we were tourists on a schedule, but seeing this public library dedicated to literacy for all buoyed our spirits. “If I lived here, I might never leave here,” my sister marveled.

Libraries are where magic happens. Here’s to that little boy’s future; may he use that card to take him places—priceless.


8 thoughts on “Let’s-Give-It-More-Credit Card”

  1. I truly believe that a library is the heart and soul of a community. Although I
    live is a small community our library is always a hub of activity.

  2. What a sweet beginning to your slice – I hope that little boy continues to be excited about his library card! I feel for you sister, as I cannot imagine not having access to a library. Yes, libraries are magical!

  3. Yes, libraries and books are priceless. I feel so sad here in India. There are NO libraries and kids never get to read anything except text books. We’ve been able to set up our own small library here in our school and the kids are thrilled, just like that little boy!

  4. This is a fantastic post- thank you so much. One of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman, talks about the power of libraries. If I remember correctly, he tells stories of how his parents would leave him at the local library when he was old enough to read. The time spent reading is never lost time- we can travel to places and experience lives we never knew through books. I am thankful my children get excited to go to our community library. Thank you for sharing your experience through this slice- it shows how libraries shape us.

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