By Cindy Schuchardt, Reference Department
It’s National Library Card Sign-Up Month, a time when we encourage young people throughout the U.S. to sign up for their very own library cards and harness the power of reading and literacy-based learning. For those of us who are a bit more “seasoned” and have had our library cards since dirt was invented, this month can be a time of reflection, introspection and enlightenment.
September makes me remember one of my favorite childhood books: The Velvet Room, by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. After an unwanted move to a new home, the book’s twelve-year-old protagonist Robin finds herself exploring an abandoned old house nearby. What she finds there – a mysterious alcove encircled by red velvet curtains – changes her life.
Never in my young life had a character resonated so completely with me! I think the main reason was that Robin was a bibliophile, a lover of books. Here is how Ms. Keatley Snyder describes Robin’s fascination with the velvet room and adjoining library:
“Next she began to look at the books. That was only a beginning, because it would take weeks to look at all of them and years and years to read them all. Some of the books looked very old, with their stiff leather bindings and old-fashioned print, but others seemed fairly new. She picked out a collection of fairy tales and went back to the alcove… intending only to try it out, to see what it would feel like to curl up with a book, as if she belonged there; but the cozy comfort of the draped alcove was soothing, and soon she was deep in the story of the White Cat.”
Like me, Robin understood that magical pull of the words on the page and the other worlds to which they can transport you. What about you? Are you a bibliophile?
You may be a bibliophile if:
- You know the names of all the dwarves in The Hobbit.
- You know your library card number by heart, backward and forward, despite the fact that you can’t seem to remember your Social Security number or your best friend’s birthday.
- Your house has a lot of bookshelves, and they are chock full of books – as are the end tables in your living room, and the nightstands in your bedroom. You may also have many boxes of books in your closets, attic, or basement. (Get them out of that basement, before they get damp and musty!)
- Despite the old adage, you sometimes do judge a book by its cover (and the cover design, as well as the art inside, the typeface used, the feel of the paper, and the quality of the binding).
- You’ve overslept and been late to school or work, because you just had to get to the end of that mystery novel at 3 a.m.
- You’ve caught yourself inhaling the smell of a leather-bound book or running your fingers over the embossed type on the cover.
- You have an amazing assortment of bookmarks, book lights, sticky notes and such – but never enough.
- You have several reading apps on your cell phone, e-reader or tablet, which you always keep charged so you can fill the dull parts of your day (say, waiting for a doctor’s appointment) with reading.
- You really find it impossible to read just one book at a time.
- You’ve used flash cards to learn the Dewey decimal system.
- You know that Dewey: the small-town library cat who touched the world can be found at 636.80929 MYR, with the letters denoting the beginning of author Vicki Myron’s last name.
- You love words, word games, word puzzles, and the “It Pays to Increase Your Word Power” quiz in Reader’s Digest.
- You were one of the five kids in your high school English Lit class who loved the subject. (After all, discussing Hamlet’s tragic flaw was so much more interesting than going to the movies.)
- You know the difference between a haiku and a sonnet, and you love them both equally.
- When you are shopping in a new town, you find yourself gravitating into a quaint used book store. (You feel strangely disappointed if the town doesn’t have such a store.)
- Your idea of the perfect day is either a) staying in your pajamas and reading in bed until it is dark, b) spending the whole day at the library and checking out the maximum number of books allowed, or c) spending the day in a rocking chair on the front porch, with all of your favorite books and magazines piled beside you for your reading pleasure.
- You have at least one dictionary in each of the most lived-in rooms of your home.
- You’ve either actually read War and Peace just for the challenge of it, or freely admit that you’d rather read more books that you enjoy than one really large volume of literature.
- You could add five or six more points to this list, and you’ll probably try.
Do these descriptions ring true for you? Well then, you are a certified bibliophile, with all of the perks, discovery, and learning that go along with that designation. Congratulations!
Library Resources for You
If you are a bibliophile, WCPL has a whole library full of resources for you! Check out our website Reader’s Corner, where you can learn about the Library’s book clubs and browse through our carefully selected booklists, website suggestions, and database offerings.
You may also be interested in these books about reading, readers and libraries (all are available at our Main library in Franklin):
- The readers of Broken Wheel recommend, by Katarina Bivald ; translated from the Swedish by Alice Menzies (F BIVALD)
- Reading Lolita in Tehran: a memoir in books, by Azar Nafisi (9 NAF)
- The End of your Life Book Club, by Will Schwalbe (616.994092 SCH)
- The Hemingway Book Club of Kosovo, by Paula Huntley (949.71 HUN)
- How Reading Changed My Life, by Anna Quindlen (813.54 QUI)
- Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan (F SLOAN)
- Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading, by Nina Sankovitch (028.8 SAN)
- Dewey: the Small-Town Library Cat who Touched the World, by Vicki Myron (636.80929 MYR)