The first time I stepped foot in the Downey City Library, I couldn’t believe my eyes.
Shelf after shelf was filled with books just waiting to be picked up and devoured, and all you had to do was show the woman working at the counter a piece of plastic? I felt as though I had truly found heaven on Earth. I would load up my book bag with all kinds of stories, read them all, and return so I could repeat the process all over again.
Nearly 30 years later, and I still feel like I’m stepping into a magical land whenever I step inside a library. It’s a monthly ritual of mine. I walk through the doors, armed with a tote bag and my journal where I’ve recorded all the things I want to read, and take in the sight of all the books stretched out before me.
It’s in this moment that I’m my happiest. I walk through the aisles, pulling books that are on my list but also any that catch my eye. I grab a book, and as I do, a paper falls out. It’s the receipt of what the book’s previous borrower also checked out. I suddenly have a pile of books so large I’ll never get through them all in the time allowed, but I check them all out anyway so that I’ll have plenty of options to choose from. I’m still amazed each time I hand my library card to the clerk that I get to read all these books… for free. I say goodbye to Marian, the librarian who always seems to be working whenever I come in and who has the best book recommendations, and tell her I’ll see her again next month.