“Ooooh, Agatha Christie!”
A huge exclamation, enough to startle my Man of the house and embarrass him as I spot my favorite author’s books. It’s our first visit to the Public library near our home and I am already behaving like a 12 year old kid. Rows and rows of books, the quietness comparable to a church, the familiar smell from old novels have always thrilled me.
Weekly visits to the almost 200 year old Pune Club library were our family tradition. Every Saturday-Sunday, I would wear my frilly frock, comb my hair into two pony tails and eagerly wait for my parents to take me to the library. The library was able to feed my voracious appetite for reading – works by authors like Enid Blyton and Ruskin Bond, Malgudi Days, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Classics like David Copperfield, Treasure Island filled my imagination. And once I got exhausted of children’s section, I started raiding the shelves for Agatha Christie’s, Jean Sasson, Robert Ludlum’s.
Then I grew up and Boards exams took over my time. I had a brief clash with library again when I worked as a Student Assistant in my Grad school library. Interacting with students and alumni and discussing their taste in literature while helping them checkout books felt less like a job and more of recreation.
Now I am a grown up full time working women. I have finally found that time to be delighted by hours spent roving in the stacks.
The best thing I have liked about America is the free access to the Public libraries and their presence in every area. It’s easier to become a member of these libraries than it is pass the DMV test or open a bank account. I have seen good quality of books ranging from fiction to nonfiction, history, finance and huge separate kid’s sections too. These libraries allow patrons to travel the world, encounter countless adventures and solve murder mysteries all housed under the same roof. The Internet, eBooks haven’t yet replaced the traditional sanctity of libraries and I dread the day they will.
Even today, it’s still the weight of the book that calms me, the feel of the paper under my fingertips as I turn the page that grabs me. The libraries help me foster my love for the written word and encourage my curiosity. And today as I tuck in my new find “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak, I feel my life is complete.