I’m so excited! Next Saturday, my husband and I are going to an Amelia Bedelia birthday party, at a local branch of our library,* with the three children I used to nanny for. I enjoyed Peggy Parish’s Amelia Bedelia books back in the 1960s and early 1970s, and I think it’s wonderful that kids of this generation love them, too. (In my continuing effort to coin a phrase that will outlive me, here goes: “If you want to build a bridge to span generations, construct it from books.”)
I’ve always loved libraries. They were a place of wonder and awe. There were so many books and so little time to read them all (I think this phrase has already been coined). And, as I got older, the library became an even more integral part of my life, and the lives of all students. Libraries were the only place to do research, so we all had to visit them fairly regularly.
When the Internet took over the world, I used to scoff when people said that all of their research was done online. How could you do real research without entering a library? Well, it turns out that you can, but I still don’t think it counts as much as getting dressed and then walking, biking, or driving to a building where you would spend hours first locating your research materials (via a card catalog, librarian suggestions, or huge books that functioned as indexes to magazine/newspaper articles). Only then were you able to go on a physical search for your needed books, microfilm, magazines, and newspapers, which you would either check out—if they weren’t labeled “For Reference Only,” which meant that they weren’t to leave the library—photocopy, or take notes from. That was research.
Today I read a blog post from one of my favorite bloggers, Nancy Roman, about her love of libraries (https://notquiteold.wordpress.com/2014/03/02/the-worlds-best-invention/), and my memories of libraries-past came flooding back to me (albeit in bits and pieces. I do have brain atrophy, after all.**) I remembered being taken there, going myself, and then taking my son when he was a child. My favorite memory of taking my son was the day that, when he was about four or five, he raced by the main desk on the first floor and yelled hello to neighbors who were at the other end of the library. The librarian, Maddie—who knew Luke well from his frequent visits—turned to me and said, over the long desk, “Luke’s mother, why is Luke running and yelling in the library?” I don’t think I laughed then, but I laugh every time I remember it now.
Anyway, after reading Nancy’s post, I commented:
Libraries were always a magical place for me, too. Public libraries spawned a love of reading for so many who would ordinarily not have access to unlimited books of every genre. I have to congratulate modern librarians for keeping up with the times, though. Their dedication to obtaining Internet access, the latest print books, electronic books, audio books, music, etc., has kept libraries relevant. And their creative, entertaining, educational, and interactive children’s programs never fail to attract large audiences. Three cheers to librarians for ensuring the continuation of this wonderful institution! Because of them, children will continue to have cherished memories of visiting the library.
Which brings us back to the Amelia Bedelia party. What am I going to wear? Whatever it is, it has to give a subtle nod to Amelia’s inability to understand idioms. Maybe I should wear one of the outfits she put on the chickens that she was told to dress? I’ll think about it as I’m dusting the house. Now where did I put the talcum powder?
* AMELIA BEDELIA BIRTHDAY PARTY
Saturday, January 31, 2015
2:00 – 4:00 pm
Peggy Parish’s beloved book character “Amelia Bedelia” is turning 52! Children are invited to celebrate her birthday and enjoy a piece of her birthday cake. Activities will include puppet and magic shows and face painting with Sunny the Clown. Registration is required and available online or by calling 203.899.2790 ext. 15903.
SoNo Branch Library 10 Washington St. South Norwalk, CT 06854 203.899.2790
Illustration by Barbara Siebel Thomas