The first library I was a member of is only ten years older than me. The Wapiti Regional Library is celebrating 60 Years of Library Service. It was started in 1950 by a tenacious band of volunteers.
Let me explain how the library system in Saskatchewan works. The province is broken down into eight rural library regions and two city library systems; each library region is responsible for numerous branches within their organization. Last year, all Saskatchewan libraries started the process of integrating the whole province under one system. As a library patron, I have always had the ability to use my library card anywhere in the province. The new system will allow for one library card and one online catalog for the entire province.
And now I’m confused…hopefully, I haven’t confused you as well.
I’m not here to explain how our library system works. I am here to tell you about my first library. I learnt to read when I was about six. For me, reading was like finding a key I hadn’t known that I had lost. I couldn’t get enough books. My elementary school didn’t have a library at all. Thank the stars, I lived right next door to the (relatively) new public library. This library was housed in the front half of what use to be the post office, my adoptive Grandma S lived in the back half and my house was just across the alley.
I don’t remember the first time I went to the library. I do remember my library card number was #23 which meant that I was the twenty-third person (in our town of approximately a thousand) to get a library card. The card itself was a business card sized piece of light green cardboard that had my name and number on it. It was magic.
With this tiny, little card I could take out six books at a time, any six books. For someone who owned one shared book (Andrew Lang‘s Red Fairy Tale book) all her life, this was astounding. I took out six books every day the library was open and on Saturdays I would be there at one pm to take out my six books, go home and read them all and return before close to bring them back and get another six books out.
I read everything and anything. I still do. I read picture books, fiction, non-fiction, mysteries, sci-fy, fantasy etc. I read almost everything in my age group quite quickly and thankfully at age eleven, with my mother’s permission, I was allowed to start taking out books from the adult section.
It was around this time, I figured out the way to get the most books out. Remember, we were allowed six books each. Well, what that meant was six at a time no matter how many you had out. So, living so close, I could get to the library often and ultimately, by the end of Saturday, I would have around thirty to forty books out. This would last me until the library reopened Tuesday afternoon. By age thirteen, I was reading a book or more per day.
You could almost say I was addicted. 🙂
My first library, I can picture it so clearly in my mind. I still have that little green library card and many more others like it. When I move or travel, one of the first things I do is seek out the library. I’ve been to every regional library headquarters here in Saskatchewan. I keep and treasure all my out-dated library cards.
I am thankful for libraries and librarians. My first librarian was an older woman, Miss Missler or Mrs. Missler – I don’t know if she was a fellow spinster or a widow. I do know that she tolerated (supported) my library habit. By the age of thirteen, I was inter-library loaning (ILL) my own requests. Back then, the provincial library system would ILL LPs, now they won’t do anything but books. I was signing out my own books not soon after.
I’d be so much less if I had never had access to a library. There is no way I could have afforded all the books that I’ve read. I’m so grateful to those pioneers who fought for and made my library a reality. Happy anniversary year, Wapiti Regional Library, may you continue to provide magic for centuries to come.