I remember a chimney and a painting of a duck. That duck was replaced by a beautiful European landscape, pears in bowl, a fluffy dog, then a portrait of a rich lady I always thought was my great great grandma who invented the double scoop ice cream.
I realized years later that we didn’t own any of those paintings and that old woman was not a member of our family. We were just members of the public library. This library was obviously a special library because we could get our books as well as all other kinds of stuff, like those paintings above our chimney.
My mom has always loved the library and insisted on taking us every month. We would check out the vinyls and books and she would check out the paintings. A free museum and free decorations for our living room.
I don’t know what happened to those paintings, but I have very fond memories of them. And even though we didn’t have a lot of money, we did have a beautifully decorated house. This was all thanks to a free membership at the library. The original group swap. Borrowing things you could use, return, reuse and not just toss.
Luckily we still have libraries and I still go to them when I find the time. When I was in my early twenties I moved to France and discovered the public library inside the Centre Pompidou. Most people just visit the museum, but it was there I found the entire list of careers to do with a Chemistry degree, found the Perfumery school in Versailles, and started my career in beauty.
Yes, I do realize now this was way before the internet and libraries were probably the only places you could go to for so much practical information. It was also a very quiet place where I could actually sit and think. It was there I would go when I was feeling lost and needed to figure out what to do with my life. It was a place that helped me learn and grow. It was good for my mind and soul.
Later on, when I moved to New York City and had kids, libraries provided an escape from our small apartment. You could spend hours browsing books or listening to readings. Learning, discovering and exploring. The New York City main library also had a great Holiday party.
Borrowing books also forced me to read it in the timeframe I borrowed it for. When I buy books they tend to just sit on my night table collecting dust.
There are people that don't like borrowing books. My daughter is one of them. She loves to reread the same book. That to me doesn’t count as waste, just as long as once she’s finished with the book, she gives them to someone who will appreciate them as much as she did. Or she takes them to the library so they can be borrowed or sold.
My dad never really read books, but he had an entire library full of books that he bought from the library. I never understood why he always wanted to buy those cheap books since he never read them, but he had a great collection. He has Alzheimer’s now and can’t even look at a book. It makes me sad. He can't remember why he once bought all those books or tell me why he loved them. In the end, they made him happy at one point in his life.
It breaks my heart to think that we had to send all those books back to the library. I just hope that his books get reused and someone else picks them up to ease their mind.