Many moons back when I was a young school-going girl in a small town, my favourite place in the world used to be my school library. The library was two big halls, filled with racks after racks bulging with books. Fiction, classics, mysteries, romances, non-fiction, encyclopedias, reference books, it seemed as if all of them were waiting to be picked up and read, by me. I used to be found in the library in all my free periods and even recess.. Summer holidays would mean sitting under a fan which lazily stirred hot air, and ticking off the books in a register during stock-taking. Winter holidays were spent helping to arrange the muddled bookshelves. The prize for spending precious holiday time in the library was extra books that I was allowed to borrow for my help. The library was my personal sanctuary, the books were my escape from the routine of a small town.
Since the library was my favourite place, the librarian was my favourite teacher. The librarian was an intuitive lady, who recognized a bookworm and let me borrow books, more than the stipulated one book a week. She nurtured my love for reading, tempered it, directed me to towards books more appropriate my age. Her casual conversations while stock-taking became lessons in life, teaching me values, without me even realising them. Above all, she inculcated in me the love and respect for books, to look at books not only as a set of words written to entertain, but also to admire the creativity and hard work of the author. To respect the author for spending countless hours on getting the words and tone correct.
Alas, my book haven was lost to me when my family relocated to a big city. The new library was a fraction of the size with a fewer number of books. I felt adrift, in an alien city, in an alien school, in an alien culture, even the school library seemed to be an unwelcoming place. The librarian though recognized the bookworm in the timid new girl and welcomed me with a smile, pointing out books which would interest me and putting me at ease. Once again all my free periods were spent in the library.
The two librarians opened the doors of magic for me, giving a young under confident girl room where she could escape to her imaginary world and become the Queen she was meant to be. Writing about them today I realised how important they were in shaping me as a reader. This post is dedicated to all such librarians who take an active interest in the reading habits of children, giving them the time and patience to develop them into readers and opening the doors of book magic.
Written by Harshita