This morning, I read an article in the paper about the unrelenting heat in the mid-Atlantic and the Midwest. The article pointed out that people who have lost their electricity (fans and air conditioners) are seeking relief in shopping malls, pools and libraries. It brought to mind memories of summer days that I spent in the public library in Xenia, Ohio. The pictures in my mind are of a dark, cool children’s room and a tall circulation desk. I remember being surrounded by books and feeling like the summer just wasn’t long enough. Of course, in the 1970s no one was in the library to charge their devices or search the online catalog.
As a child, I was allowed to check out as many books as I could carry home. My solution to this was to form my hands into a basket and ask the kind women (I only remember women) to stack them up to my chin. From there, I walked out the door and the mile to my house. As I write this, I’m wondering why I didn’t use tote bags. Hmmmmmm…..
That library has been empty since April 3, 1974 when the library was damaged by a major tornado. Our house was destroyed that day – the event that propelled my family to move to Dayton. I’ve never been to Xenia’s new library. I’m sure it’s better in so many ways – bigger, environmentally efficient, and more high tech. But…it’s the 105-year old Carnegie Library, one of 1,600 Carnegie Libraries across the country, that I keep a picture of on my desk at school.
Recently, I read about an effort to save the old building. The plan is to turn it into a tornado museum and community center. The renovation will cost $6 million, and while I don’t have anything close to that, I will send a contribution – a token of my appreciation – to the endowment fund next week.