About a month ago, I was asked by Ashley Hasty to contribute to her feature “25 Authors & Their Favorite Libraries.” Ever since, I’ve been thinking about the role libraries play in our communities.

Most historians say the first public library in the U.S. was established in the early 1700s at the Boston Old State House. The first free public library supported by tax revenue was built in 1833 in Peterborough, New Hampshire. You may have heard about Andrew Carnegie’s philanthropic support of libraries; thanks to his funding, some 2509 libraries were built in the U.S. between 1883-1929. Check out The Personal Librarian for a historical novel about Belle da Costa Greene, who was J.P. Morgan’s librarian.

Libraries break down boundaries, providing resources to all members of our community. Libraries are judgment-free zones where exploration is encouraged and you can learn more about your own unique interests, whatever they might be.

Do you have a favorite library memory? Growing up in Hendersonville, I spent many a happy hour at the Henderson County Public Library. My elementary school library boasted a carpeted reading fort, which I wish was still available as it would provide a nice escape some days…

On business trips to New York, I always try to squeeze in a visit to the New York Public Library, especially the children’s room where the original Winnie-the-Pooh lives.

Now my local library is the Northeast Regional Library in Wake County. I remember when the building was under construction and I would drive by (somewhat impatiently!) to check on its progress. It’s such a joy to wander through the lovely space, filled with natural light and books of every description. When the library re-opened after quarantine, a security guard would ask each patron if they had recently experienced Covid symptoms. One day I was distracted by work emails and cheerfully answered “No, thank you,” as though he was offering the symptoms to me. That was embarrassing…

Some lucky afternoons at this library branch, from the rear windows you may spot frolicking groundhogs in the natural area out back. I have named one Dewey, after the Dewey Decimal System. He’s my favorite.

Photo courtesy of Abigail Lynn, Unsplash