Friday, January 4, 2013

Lessons from the Library - Week 1 (52 Week Project)

A new year blooms and so do ideas.  This marks the start of a special journey as I reflect on the lessons - good and bad - learned from the library.  This begins a new series, hopefully an entry on this topic each week for 52 weeks.  Living and loving libraries I have come to realize they have taught me many things over the years. So I hope you will join me in the laughter, the embarrassment, the tears, and the frustrations of life in the stacks.  Along the way, I hope to articulate the meaning and value of the library as both a place and an idea.  In focusing on the experiences, I will be interrupting a lot of life, people, and our crazy world.

Lesson One: Imagination Is a Must

The vast activity room was crammed with children from 2 years old trying desparately to crawl out of their mother's arms to 5 year olds doing everything but listening to their teacher's instructions. I counted nearly 75 present.  I glanced at the clock. Show time!

It was a story time at the library but with groups this large the intimate, small, close kind of story reading event was hard to achieve.  So, to pull attention into the moment, we launched into a little ditty I had created  "Books, books, books; that's what I need!..."  It worked off energy, focused the children and adults, and as I closed it down with a whispered..."books, books, books; that's what I need..." we were ready to begin.

I opened the first book and away we flew into the world of imagination as I read from the selections that week designed to not only provide a literary experience but to promote the wonderful collection of books and resources available for families in the public library.  Books were read, stories told, participation from the audience encouraged to create a memorable book centered experience to showcase the value of reading, learning and the library.

The vast activty room was crammed....but now they were intently listening and imagining along with the story line. It was plain on their faces as they listened, now still and absorbed in the story.  They were seeing the pictures in the book when shown but more importantly they were also seeing it in their heads -  a permanent addition to the gallery in their head.   They little knight's sword would be recreated from brooms and bathroom plungers.  The little princess' veil from sheets, towels, or a purloined nightgown.  The dragon's heavy steps recreated with care and great energy in bedrooms and playrooms and front yards.

People need the imagination as they need air and water.  It must be cared for, fed, and inspired to develop just as a child is cared for so that it can provide the innovation, ingenuity, and creativity for later life success.  It does not stop at childhood; many of those teachers and parents were also lost in the images their own minds were creating...traveling into a wonderful...magical...and necessary place where dreams and reality mingle to strengthen one another.

See you next week for another "Lessons Learned in the Library" with Marilyn A. Hudson

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