by Shannon Kucaj
For as long as I can remember, my favorite place was always the library. My school and public library system were well connected, and I remember how cool I felt when receiving my public library card. It felt like such a monumental moment; this card gave me the ability to read and have access to so many books, ideas, and information. I felt empowered.
My love for libraries started in my elementary school when, some days during the week, we would head to our school library to read and check out books. My school also participated in the AR-point system (Accelerated Reader Points that would accrue after successful completion of a quiz over a particular book) in which I was eager to participate. During my sixth-grade year, my teacher noticed that I had successfully completed and gotten ahead on some of the class projects we were working on and asked me if I would like to go help my school librarian for a little while. I was ecstatic. During this time, I helped her shelve material, and I started to realize then how important the library space was. This was a space for growth, learning, and important conversations. And I wanted to be a part of this conversation between author and reader. Instead of going to recess some days, I went to my school library to assist younger students in reading. I remember working with one student and seeing how excited they were when they read through a children’s book with me. It was so endearing.
During this time, I was also involved with my local public library as they often had many fun events going on. I looked forward to their Summer Reading Program every year where there would be fun events and prizes (for attending events and reading a certain number of books) all centered on a fun theme (such as “space”). I found community: both in the friends I saw at the events and the librarians who helped me pick out books and answer any questions I had. Eventually, I had the honor of working as a Page for my local public library in high school as my first employment experience. Within this role, I assisted running the circulation desk, shelving materials, and supporting patrons with any questions they had about our library’s services and events. It felt like a full-circle moment. I enjoyed working with my community to further a love for books and reading within children, teenagers, and adults.
I am confident that the welcoming and informative environment I had within my school and public library systems helped shaped me into the person I am today. Now, I am studying to become a writer and editor where I have hopes to engage further in the literary world. I strongly encourage taking a trip to your public library for information on community events, latest book releases, book recommendations from your librarians, events, and even as a relaxing spot to read and unwind.