Libraries, My Mother, Dewey and You.

One day in and Dewey’s already making the DCPL excited and teary.

We are at $1,440 as of about 5 minutes ago – I’m getting a notification about every 5-10 minutes!

Here’s a very sweet note we just got from one of the donors:

In Honor of Louise Reid, my first school librarian. And also Mom.

Might be fun to ask people to tell their first library / librarian story in the “in honor of” section – along with Dewey / DC Rollergirls, of course. I bet we’d get some great feedback!

Again, we’re thrilled – and thank you so much!!

I hope you don’t mind my updates – this is exciting![/readermail]

So feel free to share with the DCPL Foundation a story about your first library or librarian, either in the comments here below, or when you make a donation to the DCPL.

I’ve lived in my new neighborhood for just about a year now, but I hadn’t had a chance to get to the nearby library. Yesterday I decided to check it out. Just take a look, no need to browse or pick anything out… and left with three books. I also saw dads helping their daughters with homework, lots of computers being used for writing resumes and sending job applications, a healthy selection of Young Adult novels (and graphic novels — including manga!), and even a copy of one of my own novels.

And then I narrated: “I can’t wait to take my mom here!”

But it’s true. My love of libraries came from my mother’s love of supporting my endless questioning, my unquenchable thirst for knowledge. When I was three and wanted to know what sign language was, she took me straight to the library and taught us both the ASL alphabet. I’ve known it for as long as I can remember. We’d go once or twice a week to the library to fill up on new stories, get excited about finding more books by a certain author, and help each other with our giant stacks of books we couldn’t wait to get home.

We still get that way about books, Mom and I. She gets so excited about a new Stephen King, you’d think he was a cousin of ours. It took a little prodding, but she did read the Hunger Games trilogy and is now the cool kid on her block, able to loan it to all of the johnny-come-lately friends and family members just now hearing about it.

All of this appreciation for books and how they bring people together started with a love of the library. It is heartbreaking to think every kid doesn’t get this chance, this experience. It is, in fact, the entire point of the DC STAR program — teaching families that love is in sharing storytime.

That’s why I started what has become the Dewey Donation System, and that’s why whenever you help these book drives I get pretty emotional. Because it feels like you understand me, and as someone who went to thirteen schools and used to move every six months and the only place that ever felt like home when I was a kid was the library… feeling like someone understands you is a really big deal.

So thanks, and if you haven’t hugged your local library in a while, you might want to check in. I bet they’ve got something there you’ve been looking for.

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  1. amy a.

    I learned to shelve in 3rd grade from a librarian who would only call me by my last name. This librarian also put me on the radio to read my award winning book report on “The Dandy Lion”. I wish I could remember her name.

  2. Heidi

    Thanks as always for doing this!

    Libraries were such a sanctuary for me as a girl, all the way through my 20s. First for books and then for poring over backdated issues of Variety before the Internet was born.

  3. Betsy

    The library was like a second home to me as a kid, and it makes me sad that it probably won’t be for my children. Our local library is quite small and is only open 5 days a week, with further cuts in money/hours on the horizon. Boo.

    My hometown library, however, is thriving! We make a point of visiting whenever we’re in town. Their children’s room may actually be larger than our entire library. It remains a vital part of the community and would be one of the main reasons I would ever consider moving back.

    My childhood librarian was Hazel Westgate, an eccentric woman who loved kids and books with equal measure. I googled her and came across this essay that mentions her. I thought it would fit right in with the Dewey theme here this week.

    Off to donate…

    1. Kristen

      I think Hazel Westgate is an absolutely perfect name for a librarian!

  4. gladcow

    my mom was born in my childhood library. you see, it was a hospital before it was my library. and now it’s a non-profit and my little hometown got a new big library with a fireplace!

    related: I went to the library on my wedding day. to calm down.

    I love libraries.

  5. meadowgirl

    i love anything that reminds me of my mom- libraries are forever #1. i can’t wait til my NNAF fundraiser is over (after next weekend) so i can not just donate but tweet & FB it up for y’all. i can’t donate til after but i’m going to do what i can. i love Dewey. <3

  6. Melissa Martinez

    My middle school librarian provided me a safe place away from mean girls. Just went to the library last night. FREE BOOKS – what’s not to love?

  7. Allie Gerlach

    I remember my Mom taking me to the library and limiting me to only one brown paper grocery sack full of books each trip. Only one! Aw, geez Mom!

    Luckily we went every 3 or 4 days.

    My mom actually wasn’t much of a reader herself, but she knew libraries were important and special places.

    1. Dani

      OH MY GOD my mom did that too!!

      And then I’d beg and promise to carry at least one bag of books myself and sometimes she’d let me get two.

      To this day, when I’m in a library or a bookstore, I try to carry all my prospective books with me to make sure I’ll be able to get them home by myself.

      Come to think of it, I do that with groceries too. No rolly carts for me! I got arms!

  8. badkittyuno

    I had a free period in six grade bc I was a smarty-pants and tested out of a class. This meant I got to spend 50 minutes EVERY DAY in the library, using my time as I saw fit. I decided to use this time to start at the As, and read every book in the place. I didn’t make it too far, but two of the first authors I picked up were Douglas Adams and Piers Anthony. I’ve been a sci-fi/fantasy lover ever since.

    1. Dani

      YES THIS. I had one at the beginning of the day in 8th grade because in my junior high we could choose whether to take 7 classes or 8. (Or some numbers like that.) But we were required to be on campus during our free periods even if they were at the beginning or end of the day (WTF) so I hung out in the library the whole time.

      In my case I decided to read “all the classics” (aka whatever our school library had that I thought was famous)… I read The Great Gatsby, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and How Green Was My Valley, and Mama’s Bank Account, and Flowers for Algernon, and I tried to read Uncle Tom’s Cabin… and then when I got tired of that stuff, I’d re-read the novelization of Superman IV.

      I read Superman IV a LOT that year.

      But I do remember Flowers for Algernon and Mama’s Bank Account better.