A Carnegie Library

Fall                                                   Waxing Autumn Moon

Reading.  Alexandria, Indiana had a Carnegie library, one of those brick and limestone buildings sprinkled throughout American small towns, so ubiquitous we give them little thought.  Like the water tower they’ve always been there.

Ours had a long flight of steps that went up to the solemn, curved stacks of the adult library, a place visited by kids only when they needed something up there, a rare occurrence.  The library also had a concrete ramp with a slight curve that led down, below ground where the children’s books were.

In the spring and early summer the concrete had a musty scent, cement and soil, a comforting, familiar smell that greeted me often as I made regular trips down the ramp.  The library had summer reading programs complete with prizes and stickers and I loved them.  Prizes for reading!  A thing of wonder to this boy bookworm.

The hours I spent down there, reading or finding books, fed a now lifelong habit and a love of books, not rare editions or signed first editions, but of books themselves, purveyors of wonder and mystery.

My favorite book was the Silver Llama, a story of a young boy and his llama, somewhere in the Andes.  I remember its silver cover, the rounded spine that always felt smooth against my thumb.  Even after I quit reading it, I would visit it from time to time, just to fell the spine and see the dull shine of its silver.

Libraries are still among my favorite places on earth, temples to generosity, human creativity and self education.

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