The guy who usually writes the library column asked me to take over this week. The highly unusual part is that I am the library building. Yep, you heard right. I was built 15 years ago at the corner of Third Street and Stillwell and I have been there ever since. Fifteen is not that old when you are talking about buildings, but because I am used so much, I've had a little work done. I've had a leaky roof repaired, experienced a few broken windows, got all new carpeting a few years ago, I needed my furnace replaced when it broke on a freezing-cold day, and there have been a couple of instances where cars have accidentally run into my outside walls! But I have good bones and will be around for a long time.
It has been said that the only constant in life is change, and nowhere is that more evident than inside the library. But the thing that changes the most about me is the people that come and go. I have to admit that my favorite group that comes through my doors are the children. The craziest part is I am old enough that some of the preschoolers who were coming in for storytime when I was brand new are now in college! I've even had a few former-youngsters come back inside my walls with children of their own. That makes my bricks feel really old!
With that said, I am thrilled when a person of any age walks into the library. I welcome teenagers, businesspeople, college students, farmers, factory workers, truckers, senior citizens...any age or occupation you can imagine. You might think I don't notice, but some visitors come in every single day. I can almost set my clocktower by their daily appearance at my front door. Others come in less frequently, and that is OK, too. That's one of the best things about a library. Everyone is always welcome. You don't have to belong to a special club or be of a certain status. Whether you live in Tillamook County or Kalamazoo, my doors are open to you.
While I am generally pretty happy about my lot in life, the biggest disappointment I've ever had was when we had to close for so long when COVID happened. Those were the coldest, saddest days of my life. It made me realize I am not really happy unless I hear lots of footsteps in my hallways. My large meeting rooms are still feeling that loneliness as we have not yet been able to safely resume programming. Before the closure, my meeting rooms were booked solid almost every day. We hosted birthday parties, memorial services, and even had a wedding once! And then there were all the fantastic programs the librarians planned for our patrons. We had ukulele jams, author talks, craft activities, and storytimes. We also hosted specialty talks about topics such as beekeeping, the history of Bayocean, crabbing and clamming, poetry...and so much more. My, how I miss those programs! But the good thing is, they will be coming back before too long! I can hardly wait to hear the conversations and laughter filling my insides when my meeting rooms are busy.
So, if you are driving by the library and you feel like someone is staring at you, don't worry...it's just me hoping you can find the time to venture inside my walls to say hi. And who knows, you might become like some of my best patrons who tell us repeatedly that the most valuable item in their wallet is their library card!