Happy National Library Week!!

“Libraries allow children to ask questions about the world and find the answers.  And the wonderful thing is that once a child learns to use a library, the doors to learning are always open.”
                                        –Laura Bush

Last spring I had a chance to go back to Toulon, Illinois where our family lived until I was 10 years old.  My father, Fred Vicini, had been a teacher at what was then, Toulon High School.  Today it is known as Stark County High School. We were there to celebrate a very special birthday for long time family friend, Mary Hampton, as well as spend time with another special family friend, James (Jimmy) Nowlan. Prior to the party there was one very extraordinary place I had to go back and visit which was the Toulon Public Library. Are you surprised?!   Unfortunately it was a Sunday so I was unable to venture inside.  I remember as a child spending a great deal of time going through their collection of books.  When I was old enough to ride my bike there I would spend stretches of time inside this very special building.  I would check out the maximum amount of books, put them in my satchel, and hurry home to read!  I’m not quite sure of the name of the librarian – too many years have gone by – but I think it was Ms. Ella Silliman. Even though the name might not be correct, she made a lasting impression on me because she never rushed me out of the library.

Here’s a picture of the Toulon Public Library.  When my Mother, sister, brother, & I stopped by the old library, childhood memories came flooding back to me! Most importantly what immediately came to my mind was a collection of books I would continually check out.  It was an old series of biographies which had orange covers and was called, Childhood of Famous Americans.  I was particularly fond of the book, Louisa Alcott: Girl of Old Boston by Jean Brown Wagoner.  For some reason I was enamored with her life story which would eventually lead me to read many of her books, such as Little Women.  After so many years I finally obtained a copy of Louisa Alcott: Girl of Old Boston!  It is fondly displayed on our desk in our reading room.  I love that I have a bit of my childhood out on display to share with my family and friends.

Just a simple old book generates so many special memories for me.  I’d like to pose some questions to you since its National Library Week this week. Do you remember your childhood librarian and public library? What is that one book for you that will elicit a warmhearted remembrance from your own youth?



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7 responses to “Happy National Library Week!!

  1. Love this, thank you for sharing. When my mother passed away earlier this year, she asked that donations be made to our own small town library, The Enumclaw Public Library. I swear, the building is of the exact same era.

    • Hi Danica!
      Thanks for tweeting about my National Library Week tribute today! I had been carrying that picture of the library on my Blackberry since last winter knowing that I’d like to eventually write about it. I’ll have to take a look online at The Enumclaw Public Library. I bet they are from the same era!
      Sorry to hear of your mother’s passing, Sarah had told me.

  2. Donna

    Yes, my reading journey began with Marguerite Henry’s “Misty of Chincoteague.” I was 9 years old in 1959 and a horse fanatic continually begging my parents to let me have a horse of my own. I was not a reader and I didn’t have a public library in my area. I did have a wonderful school librarian, Miss Valcek, who suggested that I try the Misty book. I was totally hooked on books after that; read every one of Ms. Henry’s horse titles, then branched out into the Black Stallion series, the My Friend Flicka series — even then, titles about horses were many. I tell this story to kids — especially those who tell me that they don’t like to read. I am happy to say that I’ve had some converts. It is always gratifying when we can connect a nonreader with just the right book!
    Thanks for letting us remember our special librarians.

    • Thank you so much Donna for sharing your story! It just takes one person, a librarian, a teacher, or a parent, to turn a child onto reading by sharing their own personal story about their favorite book. I too remember reading the Marguerite Henry books! I fell in love with them. There was a former student of mine who also read all of her books. When he recently visited our school to talk to the students (he is now a local attorney) he shared his love of reading by telling his story about the Marguerite Henry books.

  3. Marcie

    Our beautiful LaSalle Public Library was a favorite spot, especially in the summer. I don’t know the librarian’s name, but do recall that she had to have the bones removed from her baby toes, and we got to go BEHIND THE DESK and visit with her. We would check out books, hurry and read them and try to return them for more on the same day. We would see what was new by Dr. Seuss, and I remember reading about a chinchilla farm. Every summer the Library would hold a huge party for those who met their reading goals. Thanks for taking me down memory lane.

    • Thanks for sharing your library memory Marcie!
      It’s those small impressionable memories that all of a sudden leap out of nowhere just by someone asking a question to trigger those thoughts.

  4. Amy Stumpf

    I don’t have very fond memories of Reddick Library in Ottawa, but I loved the library at Jefferson Elementary where I attended school until 6th grade. Mrs. Brooke (I think?) was the librarian and she helped me pick my favorite books to read for book reports and that’s the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder and westerns by Louis L’Amour.

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