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Love at the Library

Heart  _edited.png
Heart  _edited_edited.png

Read through the stories and decide which one you like best! A link to vote is provided at the bottom of the page!

* Voting will end Saturday 24 February.

* Winning writer will receive a box of Leopold's Chocolate.

* Everyone who votes will be in a random drawing for a gift card (this requires you to sign in with an email).

* The winning story will be submitted to local media.

STORY #1

He was so tired. Tired of running, tired of hiding, tired of feeling scared and hungry. He stopped at the corner and looked around. The softly lit porches were inviting, but he knew better. It was best to stay hidden in the shadows. He continued on into the night as a misty rain started to fall. Tired and hungry, he looked for a dry place to rest and escape the wet weather. Turning another corner, he spotted a brick building and a bench sheltered by an overhang, its roof keeping the bench dry. It looked safe enough, and it was dark here, so he curled up on the bench and settled for the night. In the morning, the familiar hunger pangs nagged him awake, and as he opened his eyes, a friendly face smiled down at him. "Well, what have we here?" the sweet voice asked. Instinctively, he shrank back and poised himself to run, but something about that voice held him back. Instead, he allowed himself to be picked up and carried inside the door where he was met with a delicious warmth and a sight she had never before seen. Walls and walls of books and lovely soft chairs and so many tables! He was gently placed on a bright blue chair and the woman with the sweet voice spoke again. "Are you hungry?" she asked as she opened a tote she been carrying. "Let's see what we can find." He watched warily, but his acute hunger overcame his shyness, and he walked slowly towards the enticing smell of tuna. He ate as the woman stroked his head and murmured softly to him. And thus began the enduring love story of Booker the library cat and Madeline the librarian with the sweet voice.

STORY #2

This is a story of how instrumental Libraries can be. A true story. My father was the sixth son of a family of nine children, whose parents were first-generation Americans. World War II coincided with his High School years, and five older brothers had already enlisted in the Army. My father joined the Navy in 1944, just as soon as he graduated. He was not yet 18. While in the Navy, he realized how ill-educated he was, having been an indifferent student in High School. So he resolved to improve himself. He started by borrowing textbooks from the local library (Alameda, CA) and catching up in his spare time. When his service commitment was up, my father headed back home, and went to college on the GI Bill, only the second of the nine siblings to seek higher education. While in college, he became a regular at the Royal Oak (Michigan) Public Library. There he met a librarian who was consistently helpful to him, the oldest of an Irish Catholic family who had been the Valedictorian of her class. Of course you know this was my mother. So it is because of the Library that I even exist! They got married just as soon as he graduated from college. He didn't even have a job or a place to live! The ceremony was held at the famous Shrine of the Little Flower, whose pastor was the infamous Father Charles Coughlin, the Roosevelt-hating radio demagogue. He was not the officiant, however. As a Roosevelt-loving family whose patriarch had worked in the Administration, they preferred the Assistant Pastor. My dad's parents, devout Dutch Reformed Calvinists, were reluctant to even set foot in a Catholic Church, which Calvinists consider demonic. They asked if they could skip the ceremony and just attend the reception. My dad honored his intended by saying, "No. , If you won't attend the ceremony, don't attend the reception, either." They went to the ceremony, and survived. After the wedding, my mother resigned from the Library to get on the mommy track. Five children followed. While our ages were still in single digits, my mother let my sister and me walk to the Birmingham (Michigan) Public Library by ourselves, a mile and a half expedition that required us to cross a busy highway without being stupid and getting ourselves run over. Most Saturdays we'd go, to check out stacks of books from the children's section, which would be returned the following Saturday to be replaced by still others. Mom instilled in us a love of reading. That is the love at the library to me.

STORY #3

Living in different areas of the USA throughout our lives afforded my sisters and I membership at a variety of libraries, each with its own unique characters and offerings. For those who enjoy variety when it comes to love, and libraries, these vignettes are based on our experiences of finding love at libraries. She had just turned 18 when Julie noticed a handsome young man diligently researching in the home remodeling section of the stacks at the Burlington County library where she worked. Wasting no time, she positioned herself in the row behind the cute guy and reshelved with fervor, causing several books to fall to the floor at his feet. She lost her nerve when he offered to help her pick them up, and nothing came of it. Until the next day. He was back! He noticed her pushing a cart full of materials into the Historical Society of NJ's microfiche room, the perfect chance to speak to her privately. He introduced himself, gave her his business card and invited her to call him if she wanted to talk or hang out. Julie called Steve that very evening. The next day they played Chip N Putt, and the day after that they watched Romancing the Stone in his Man Cave in his parents' basement. A month into their romance, Julie went to Brazil as an exchange student. Steve spent time with Julie's parents every weekend that year, ready to get serious upon her return. At least that's her side of the story. Either way, it's history. It was love at first sight; each just knew that the other stacked up in all the right ways. Their story was published in a local paper upon their engagement. They're still happily married almost 4 decades later. The New York Public Library on 53rd Street in Manhattan is an impressive library that I visited many years ago when I needed to find someone with only a first and last name and that he was "from NYC." I could have spent weeks poring over the vast data bases, rather than the few day trips that I made, each involving a car, a bus, a train and a walk. It was worth the trouble of getting there and back as I fell in love with the historic building that feels like a cross between a cavernous museum and a state of the art, modern day library. I did not find the person I was looking for, but following up on the leads I gathered there kept me out of trouble for years. Well, mostly kept me out of trouble, except for a wildly romantic investigation of one man who pretended to be my missing person. There was another missing person in my life who I did succeed in finding, this time with the help of a librarian at the Lansing, Michigan Public Library. When asked whether it was possible to locate someone whose name I did not know with just their father's month of death and town of birth, she mailed me all the obituaries and death notices for an 8-week period from all the newspapers from the deceased's town of birth. Nonidentifying information I had about the father of my missing loved one matched just one of those obituaries. I was able to take it from there with the help of a support group that met at another historic library, The Free Library of Philadelphia. There was a happy reunion with my missing loved one. I'll always remember the research librarian that I only met by phone who helped solve a very big mystery with only two small clues. Love of life bloomed in my sister Anne-Marie when she became a research librarian at the Willingboro Public Library in NJ. She was fiercely dedicated to helping her patrons and to the mission of libraries. Sadly, she passed away after working there a few short years. We held a celebration of her life in one of the meeting rooms at the library. Several library patrons spoke about how Anne-Marie impacted their lives. One, a young man named Kevin, had just graduated from an Ivy League college. He said he would never have applied to an Ivy League but for Anne-Marie's guidance and encouragement, so instrumental in his achievements. Because libraries are welcoming to the public, we found comfort being in the place where she'd found such a sense of purpose. We also visited the site where she had provided free Movie Nights on behalf of the library for people with disabilities. Anne-Marie had found it important to bring a little bit of the library to those unable to access that magical place where people fall in love - with books, movies, themselves, groups that meet there, life itself, and maybe, for a lucky few, even with a special someone.

STORY #4

I was new to town. Struggling to trust my life choices that led me to this place. I did my best to acclimate and urged myself to find something, just something that could be comforting. A short, although it seemed long at the time, ten months after my divorce reflection of my life was hard to swallow. I used to be a wife. I used to be a teacher. I used to have a house and a dog. I used to live in a town boasting 300 sunny days annually. Now I was jobless, moving myself into a one-bedroom, basement apartment in the mountains. I was struggling because of the unfamiliarity of it all, yet I knew it was necessary. It had to be done because on paper it looked like my life had taken a nose dive, but in actuality I was so much happier. My new landlord lived just above me, well, actually he parked his car just above me, and seemed nice enough and honest enough to provide housing to a newly divorced, graduate student from way out of town. I spent my time in classes. Between classes I would head to the library and spend time looking around, studying, or busying myself. This was my new routine; I embraced it. Libraries have long been a safe harbor and this one proved no different. You can learn a lot about a community by its library, and I’m not encouraging judgement (there’s something about a book and a cover to be said here), but I could breath deeply and knew that I was going to be fine in this new place, somehow, because of this library. By mid-terms I started feeling like the myself I knew I was, but I was curious about my neighbor. He never had visitors or took weekend trips, and never seemed anything but independent, or perhaps lonely. I began to imagine us as an “us”. This is crazy I know, but we lived feet apart and seemingly could each use a friend. Our lives seemed rarely to intertwine, but I was older than my classmates and he was younger than most landlords, so I made an effort to befriend him. I greeted him one day in the driveway. He was 30 and also recently divorced. Turns out we were living in his mothers house, where he moved when she passed 3 years prior. He loved his job and thought maybe he’d stay in the mountains forever. He asked me about the book I was carrying. I happened to be carrying a copy of Catcher in the Rye which I told him I read annually, since first reading it in high school just to prove to myself that I change. I began rambling about how I guage my growth on how I learn, feel and appreciate new things every time I read it and how that proves I am changing, since I am certain J.D. Salinger hasn’t changed the text. He smiled or politely stifled a snicker. I wasn’t sure, but I was certain my friend-making attempt was over. I turned, reddened by revealing a vulnerability, and retreated. The following week, when I returned to the library, I walked past a display with a sign that said “Rediscover a classic, rediscover yourself” and classics proudly on display. I felt validated and snapped a picture. He was milling about the yard when I arrived home, so I felt it was a sign to show him the picture as proof I wasn’t crazy. He inspected it, looked at me with the same smirk, and said, “I thought you’d appreciate my display.” This is the start of the story, and honestly, it was a moment, but it is how I found love in a library. The love of who I am, and the love of my life- the library or the librarian…maybe both.

STORY #5

Every day after school, she would go to the local library. In the back corner of the building, she would meet them. Some were tall and skinny, while others were short and stocky. Some were old and some were young. Some were very serious. Others were funny and made her laugh. She would hold them close to her body and close her eyes. Sometimes she would smell the scent of them. She always touched and caressed them. She never knew she could fall in love with books until it happened, on her first visit to the local library. It was the love, intrigue, excitement and curiosity that keep her going back every day.

STORY #6

This Love of Books has many generations for our family. My Great Aunt Marion worked at the original library and my mother Margo worked there, she was doing the book mobile with Chris. Bringing reading materials to schools and many numerous stops. I remember If I was bored summers, my mom would have me help mend books in the basement. She even talked me into twice dressing into being Bert (me, being taller) and finding my sister Lisa, or Kathy (being shorter-being Ernie) at the Blueberry Festivals. Watching the enjoyment of the kids was worth the heat of the costume. As a family we still believe in the magic of a good book, for my children and my grandchildren. You can find so much to love within these walls. You can also get interested into another author or book you didn't know about. My cousin is an author of a series you have here. The Love of Reading should be shared by all who enter here and work here - past, present, and future. Thanks for the love of reading, from my family. My this love be never-ending.

STORY #7

Being newly retired and lacking motivation and structure, I decided to get up every morning in this cold weather and seek something. I started with the local restaurants with a light breakfast and coffee but found that to be quite lonely after a week.  A friend recommended a good book for winter reading and I decided to go to the public Library.  Maybe I would have to spend time at home again alone reading a book.  Well life could be worse.  After searching for quite some time, I inquired about the availability of the book. The Librarian said it was out now but due back next Wednesday. I browsed around finding the atmosphere to be pleasant with a variety of patrons. There were preschool children with their care-givers, retirees and young adults. The days went by slowly until my next visit to the Library on Wednesday.  I enthusiastically arrived mid-morning hoping to be the first to take the book out once returned. Inquiring again at the front desk I was informed that the reader decided to renew the book for another week.  Disappointed, I stayed a bit to browse the isles.  The next seven days were long and frustrating.  I now had a goal: Get the book, read it and be a week closer to Spring. The day had finally come. I arrived early and poised myself near the reception desk. I planned to frown upon the person who took such a book out for two weeks. Then he walked in. I hardly gave him a glance because I expected a woman.  The Librarian spoke to me and said the book was here.  I looked around thinking I missed her and seeing only the older gentleman and myself at the counter, I realized my mistake. Instead of a frown, I showed a look of astonishment. He smiled at me and melted my funny faceinto a slow smile. He took the lead and told me that I would find that book too good to read once. I was captivated by his eyes. They held my attention until an awkward silence was upon us both. My mind raced to fill the void. “Do you come here often?” No, too cliché. “My friend recommended this book”. No, he will think it could be a man. Ultimately my smile became words and I asked him what he liked best about the book. He said he would love to discuss it with me next week. My heart sank. Another one slipped away. “By next week, you will have finished the book and we can discuss it over…coffee?” We have been having coffee every day since and my lonely days of winter have now become love at the Library.

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