An Ode to the Library

“Having fun isn’t hard when you got a library card.” – Arthur

One of the earliest memories that I have is going to the library with dad. It was a weekly ritual for the two of us. We would go to the library and I would pick up some new books and return the old book from the previous week, and then we would head to the mall or the park and spend the afternoon together. It’s one of the most vivid memories that I have, especially those of the summer months when we would walk to the library, enjoying the sun and warmth that exist for that very short amount of time in Prairie summers.

It’s a ritual that I still participate in today. Albeit not as frequently, usually by myself, and via a car and not my own two feet year-round. I still enjoy going to the library, but as an adult, it doesn’t hold that same amount of magic that it did as a kid for me. Instead of walking down rows and rows of bookshelves, discovering new worlds and characters, I usually rush in, grab the books that I’ve put on hold and rush out. There is no time for exploration or wonder, it’s pretty much just a drive-by, or as more books become available via online catalogues, a case of visiting the library through my phone.

That de-mystification doesn’t take away from the fact that libraries will always hold a special place in my heart. Libraries will always be a source of books, of discovery, of wonder for me, and they have and are increasingly becoming centres of communities and invaluable resources to individuals from all walks of life, especially children and immigrants.

As the daughter of immigrants, the library was an invaluable resource for my parents when my sister and I were growing up. Libraries gave us access to hundreds and thousands of books, audiobooks, movies, and story time activities that would have been otherwise unavailable to us. They also helped my parents teach me about responsibility because whatever books I borrowed from the library were my responsibility, and tiny-Cindy took those responsibilities very seriously. I remember counting all my books, twice, when I checked them out from the library and twice when I returned them to the library. (I have no idea where the fear of losing the books came from, but it was a very real fear for childhood me.)

I’ve also been lucky enough to visit a number of different libraries in different cities that I visited. The most recent and fascinating was Montreal’s Bibliothèque et Archives Nationales du Québec. It’s one of the most stunning and modern libraries that I’ve seen and I got to visit ten other libraries while I was there. How you may ask? Well through the exhibition, The Library at Night. (The Library at Night Trailer)

The exhibition was a virtual reality exploration of ten of the world’s most fascinating libraries. The experience was one of the coolest and most magical that I have experienced when it comes to visiting a library. You travel through secret bookshelf doors to this room that looks a forest littered with tables and lamps, similar to ones that you would find in libraries all over the world and take a seat. I was able to journey through libraries that no longer exist (Alexandria and Sarajevo) and some of the most peaceful libraries that I wish I could visit (Japan). It was a one-of-a-kind experience. The exhibition is currently touring around the world, so give it a Google and see if it pops up near you, it’s well worth the visit.

Calgary’s New Central Library Atrium

I’m lucky enough that I live in a city where a new central library is under construction at the moment, and I cannot wait to visit it when it’s complete because it looks spectacular from what I’ve seen so far.

What are your favourite parts of libraries? Any special memories that spring to mind when you think of them? How often do you visit the library? Let me know down below.

Thank you for reading!



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