My Grandma Helen was always reading, and nine times out of ten, it was a book she had gotten from the Madison County Library. Being a school teacher from the hills of Kentucky, she wanted to instill the value of reading in her children and grandchildren. In the late 1990’s - early 2000’s, specifically during to the summer time, my brother and I could be found spending a day at the library with her, signing up for the Summer Reading Program, finding books that interested us, and making memories.
I didn’t start out a great reader, but Grandma Helen made sure that I always had access to the library if I wanted to be one. Knowing that she would always be willing to take me to the library anytime I wanted to go, I began finding the books that I knew I could finish within the checkout time frame and exploring the worlds available to me through books. I was always nervous to renew a book in case there was another person that wanted to read it and I was taking too long. But as the years went on and I began to find a reading pattern that suited my needs, the library became a sanctuary that I could find myself in, and it didn’t matter how long it took me to read the books available.
We lived close enough that I could walk or even ride my bike to the library on good days. Some times after school, at the “Old Junior High” (now the school district office), I would walk there to finish up some research or pick out a new book to read that I couldn’t find in the school library. If they didn’t have the book I was looking for, the librarians were always so nice in getting it from another library in the network for me.
The Summer Reading Program always had the best prizes. From small trinkets to ice cream cones to much more. There was always something available that would spark the interest of a growing child to read. It took a few years before I was comfortable enough with reading to be able to get the prizes I wanted, but when I did, it was like I had made a huge life accomplishment equivalent to “graduating high school” in my mind.
My father tells me stories of growing up and studying at the library. He tells the tale of the “old blue-green rock library” that was build new in the 1960’s were his elementary school teachers would take his classes to visit the children’s section that was located in the basement. That library was destroyed by the Teton Dam Flood in 1976 and the current library was built to replace it. The “new library” was the favorite spot for his nerdy school “gang” with the North-East corner always being the optimal spot to study. He would even take us kids to the favorite spot to read in the winters, if he had a day off. Another favorite spot of mine was by the fire place, snuggled up with a book, getting lost in the warmth.
I found that the librarians were always patient while listening to a young girl ramble on about all the books she was checking out. Valarie and many others always had the best recommendations and the biggest smiles. Even though they see so many people, I always felt like I was the most important person that the librarians had talked to that day.
When I moved out of state for college, I went to the local library in my new town, looking for the same feeling that the Madison County Library always provided. I was disappointed that it didn’t feel the same. Sure, I still had the same access to the same books and still had amazing adventures in the pages, but it wasn’t home. One of the first things I did when I moved back to Rexburg was make sure that my library card was still active.
I don’t make it in to the library as often as I would like to with work and responsibilities now. It’s hard to make time in this hectic, modern world for the things that we love. It is a goal of mine for the new year to come, to see the inside of the library more often. The Madison County Library services many people, but it will always be a part of me, no matter the changes that it or I may face. This is one of the few places that I will keep as dear in my heart as my Grandma Helen once did when she was alive. I will always hold my Madison County Library Card so that my grandmother can be proud of the person I am and the love I have for books that she helped cultivate when I was five years old. A fond place brings fond memories. The Madison County Library does that for me.