“Oh, for a book and a cozy nook! And oh, for a quiet hour!”
Our town just got a brand new public library.
The ribbon cutting ceremony was Sunday, and yesterday I took Katie and Caleb to see it for the first time. It is truly beautiful.
The building’s style is hard to define, a seamless blend of modern and classic elements with a unique Northwest flavor. High ceilings and sleek architectural lines draw the eye to a soaring kinetic sculpture suspended over the spacious lobby. A whimsical set of giant, moose-shaped bookends welcome you through the front doors, and walking down the broad, sweeping staircase to the children’s section on the lower level feels like an event. The entire structure is covered in tall windows, flooding both floors with natural light and affording an amazing view of the lake and the mountains for which North Idaho is famous. Large, tiled fireplaces appear at intervals along the upper level, and here and there overstuffed chairs beckon to readers, inviting them to sink in and spend a few hours between the pages of a book.
I can’t tell you how excited I am to live in a community that believes in the importance of its library. Think of it: each and every citizen of Coeur d’Alene, whatever their age or income or background, can step through those grand doors into a world of words and pictures, of fact and fantasy, of information and imagination. They can look out at the view, use the computer, take in an art exhibit, or check out a book or a movie or a CD.
It’s not just a library; it’s a portal.
One of my earliest childhood memories is of visiting the library in the small Michigan town where we lived until I was six. It was a brick building in the main square that looked like it might have been a church at one time. What I remember most is tiptoeing down the narrow staircase to the children’s section in the basement. Someone had installed a small door at the bottom of the stairs, like a hobbit door, and every time I stepped through it, I felt like I was entering a land made just for me, where children ruled, and everything was my size. The chairs were little, the tables were little, and the shelves were short enough for me to reach every book. Someone had painted a mural across the walls, and big, fluffy rugs and soft cushions were piled up everywhere. I used to lose track of time taking book after book off the shelves and settling down in a pillow nest to read.
Going to the library was a treat then, and it’s a treat now. It was such a joy yesterday to see my children running up and down the aisles, discovering new books and clambering up into my lap to ask me to read to them. And I can’t wait to come back by myself sometime to sit in one of those cozy armchairs by the fire, maybe while the snow falls softly outside, and lose myself once again in a good book.