A WRITERS' WIT
The Many Wichita Public Libraries
I began visiting libraries early. At Wichita’s Longfellow Elementary, where over six hundred students filled a building constructed for fewer pupils than that, there wasn’t much room for a library, but toward the end of my time there, in 1960, I believe two classrooms were combined to form the library.
Still, especially in the summer, it was not enough library for me. My mother would load my siblings and me in the car and take us downtown to the Wichita Carnegie Library (opened 1915), about twenty blocks from our home. Later, I would board a public bus and make the trip by myself. I relished the smell of old books, paper thinned by all those fingers turning pages down the path of the next exciting plot. And in those days I mostly read for plot. I mean, I did fall in love with the characters I read about. I loved the settings the authors created. But mostly, I wanted to know where those characters were going, what they were doing or what they were going to do to solve their myriad problems. I adored climbing the stairs to search for books in the stacks, attempting to read all the books of a favored author before moving on to another.
No matter how small, libraries maintain important places in our lives. They can fill certain voids from which our individual lives may suffer. Today, in honor of National Public Library Week, think about your first library, and what it contributed to your life. Make a donation!
TOMORROW: I Celebrate National Library Week: Southwestern College Library