Thank you again to everyone who participated in the Centennial Essay contest for the Madison Library's 100th birthday. You can see how important this library is to our community and to individuals who have loved its warm, inviting spaces. Be sure to check out all of the great things the library has done this year to celebrate. Let's help make the next 100 years even more amazing!
Have you ever gotten lost in life? It is quite easy to do nowadays. Can I tell you about my safe and warm hiding place? The Madison Library in Rexburg, Idaho is where I hide from a world of chaos. In the library you can find a world of magical adventure or learning or just playing games. My wife tells about her childhood. “When I was really little I used to go down into the basement of the old library where the children’s area was located. When I would go up to the upstairs it was so huge and amazing. My brother used to check out so many books he would always keep the librarians busy. I loved that little old green library located east of the current library and next to the fire station. I used to run over there always during grade school to do research for school papers. When it was hot outside during the summer I would go to the library and spend hours just looking at books and enjoying the cool and comfortable library.”
My wife also remembers that at the time of the Teton Dam flood she had checked out “Gone with the Wind.” She had been reading this wonderful book and it was not ruined after the flood so she was so happy to be able to read it when the library was closed after the flood. So then they built the library across the street on the corner. She reported “The library has been such a constant and reliable safe haven in my life. I was so happy to see the new library built after the flood. I was so worried that the library would not be built again after the flood. It was so cool when everyone brought books to donate after the flood and I saw everyone felt that the library was such an asset and a vital gathering place in the community.”
A very fond memory of her childhood that my wife related to me was that she remembered that her father would visit the library on a regular basis and he was always reading a book. She reports “when I was a small child he would use a butter knife to hold his books open. So when I was young I first associated a butter knife with reading a book before I ever realized its true purpose.”
When we moved to Rexburg with our family my wife and I were able to bring our children to the library to check out fun books and we had so much fun getting books. My wife would walk to the library with our children and it was an event to go to the library because they would get so excited as they anticipated their time at the library. They were delighted to participate in the Summer reading programs. So many times my children would be able to get excited about outside chalk art or rock painting activities. Reading parties were also great fun for my children. Going to the library helped teach my children a lot of responsibility and how to interact properly with others and to treat adults with respect. My daughter said that she especially enjoyed looking at a dinosaur or I Spy picture book while sitting on a banana chair in the children’s section. Many times she would check out her favorite videos. She said she felt like she was at home in the library and was able to just be herself while exploring the world.
Many times I have gone to the library to just get away from the worries and trials of life and I have been able to relax and collect my thoughts while reading the paper or sitting by the fireplace and talking with a friend or two. I have so much enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with a friend or play a game of chess. When I go to the library I don’t have to have anything on my agenda so I can just chill and let whatever happen just happen and it takes so much stress away and just that quick I am able to get back to being the real me.
We started coming to the library just before my son turned one. All it took was one trip & he was hooked.
It began simply: I would put him in front of the fish tank. Babies love the tank. Moms know what I mean. He’d sit there for several minutes. Sometimes he’d crawl up to it & I’d stress out that he’d knock the whole thing over. But, most of the time he would sit and stare. He loved that tank and that little corner became our little corner. You could catch us there two (maybe three!) times a week.
He quickly discovered the spinning gears on the wooden toys. He made many friends who’d sit on the floor with him giggling and spinning gears.
We’d go to story time weekly & once he exclaimed “hot dog!” right in the middle of the most important part of the story. Don't ask me why that’s his favorite combination of words, & really don’t ask me why then of all times. He made all the little kids laugh. I guess he’s a class clown now? (Sorry Gina.)
Then of course, there were the books. Don’t get me started on the books. The book with no pictures? Checked it out twice now—highly recommend. Oh, you’re reading No, David? Buckle up, you’re kid is gonna love it. Books are where he’s most happy. I could be doing absolutely anything & I’d hear the stomping of his little chubby feet as he balanced more books than he could carry. He’d find me, set his stack of books down right next to where I was sitting, and make himself comfortable on my lap.
“Read it please, mama” he’d plead, and he won every. single. time.
So, I owe you thanks, Madison Library.
That little baby that used to sit in front of the fish tank now sprints to that same tank and can point and name all the fishies. We now check out dozens of books at a time. DOZENS. (Thank you to whoever decided to make the check out limit so high.) That same little boy now brings his baby sister to story time, helping push her stroller through the big doors of the community room. (We’re still working on getting him to stop screaming ’hot dog’ in the middle of the story. Seriously, so sorry Gina.)
I’m honored that my little toddler and our little library share three of the same years.
You see, as the library was collecting her well-deserved 100 years, my little baby was collecting his well-earned three years. Though distant in age, they actually grew up together. And we’re grateful. She’s forgiven us of all the Daniel Tiger books that he’s sure to have put in the wrong section. She’s provided the best warmth (literally) on those windy, blustery Rexburg days. And most importantly, she’s shared countless shelves of wisdom and knowledge that helped my little one cultivate his love for books.
Which reminds me, I have a little reading date with him right now. Just us and our books. Thank you, Madison Library District.
I am part of the library. The quiet smells of thoughts and dreams. Years of worlds and pinpricks of universes hide in ink on pages. All it takes is one step - I am greeted by a lifetime of memories, not only of this library, but of many. I feel the soft spines as I float through worlds, as I experience my own memories alongside the imagination of hundreds, thousands. I was brought to life in the libraries of my childhood, I found my soul and thoughts shaped by the voices of strangers, I was alive as shadow people spoke the thoughts I could not express. There were many worlds in my childhood, in the universe of the library, adventures and explorations unending. Memories and shadows of memories, the beginning and ending of thoughts otherwise forgotten to time. I fell in love with the universe of the library. As I've grown, my universe has grown too. It expands as my son explores this small town and the cavernous worlds of its library, as unknown people shape his voice and future. He smiles his gap toothed smile at the visions of talking animals, rhyming and singing in new and magical ways. Picking up a book, and then another and another, he hunts. Because of the universe of the library, he finds the things we all do, the things I found. Hope and joy and peace. Curiosity and excitement. Sometimes he even finds fear and the unknown. He walks in the dreams only found in the library, and I can see. He is part of the library too
The Madison Library has been special to me because of the senses that it brings. The smell of old and new books just waiting to be read. The feeling of peace and an imaginary escape from the world. The sound of pages turnings and small footsteps walking through the aisles of shelves. Seeing children ecstatic to scan their pile of books that seems impossible to finish in three weeks. All of the senses combined creates the library experience, which is irreplaceable.
I visited the Madison Library for the first time a few months ago when I wanted to get back into reading. I had not read a book for pure pleasure in a very long time. As a child I read multiple books a month, staying up way too late on school nights trying to finish them. When I first walked into the library, every employee I encountered was kind and helpful. They answered my many questions and walked me through the entire process of getting an account and the library policies. They showed me around and offered help to find a book that I would enjoy. The employees helped to create a special place in my heart for the library because of how comfortable they made me feel.
The best part is the experience of the library does not just stop there. It continues as you check out your books and get to disappear into the stories. You get to bring the library experience to your home, school, the bus, or wherever you choose.
The Madison Library is special to me because I know when I go that I will be greeted by kind employees, find a book that I enjoy, and get to experience all the wonderful feelings it brings.