Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Library love story

I remember my first visit to a library. It is one of my earliest memories, if not even the earliest – I was perhaps three years old at the time. My mother took me to this beautiful old building (built in 1900), where the public library of our tiny town used to be (picture from this page).

I remember the hushed halls and the shelves after shelves of books. I was told I could take some books home with me, and when we had read them, we’d return them – and get yet new books to read! I was thrilled: I loved books, I loved listening to stories, and I soon learned to read (I’ve been told I was four or five at the time; I don’t really remember). I got my own library card that day, and since then used it frequently. My mother also sometimes took me to the library for story times for children.

Some years later, a more modern library building was constructed. This new building, which still works as a library today, was also a versatile cultural venue; they organised puppet shows and movie mornings for children (and they still do!). I remember going to those as well, although it was always the books that I loved best. Sometimes I borrowed so many books that as I pushed them forwards on the counter behind which the librarians sat, the librarians couldn’t see me as the tall pile of books hid me from their view. But I needed bags and bags of books when we went to the summer place and stayed there for several weeks (until my mother realised it might be a good idea to get a library card for the library of the closest town).

Since that first visit, I’ve come to know many different libraries: the libraries of every town I’ve lived in, university library (considering the title of this post, I will have to mention that a different kind of love story took place there; the university library was where we often met with my husband, in the early days of our courtship), a couple of public libraries in Vancouver... But then, I’m almost ashamed to admit, there were a few years when I didn’t go to a library at all! I only read books in English – what would I find in a Finnish library? It was the decision to try and write a short story in Finnish that finally lured me back to the library: having read no Finnish fiction in several years, I thought it best to re-familiarise myself with it. 

As it happened, this was the library of my old home town, and since then, I’ve kept going back for more Finnish fiction, non-fiction of various kinds - and I’ve also discovered that they do have a section of English novels! There’s also a children’s play area, where I can leave my daughter for a while and just browse the books and enjoy the quiet (I do love quiet)... and the expectation of finding something good to read.

The beauty of library books is that there is no commitment. I am a little hesitant to buy a book if I’ve never read anything by the author, but if a library book isn’t interesting, I don’t have to read it... and when I return it, it won’t take any space in our already crammed shelves. You can be as adventurous as you like and borrow anything you want. Anything!!! I’m still as immensely excited about that as I was the first time I stepped into a library.

And to ruin an ending I was, for once, happy with… I am aware of the alarming, global trend of closing down libraries. I could have written a different kind of post about how libraries are vital for a community, for they provide people with an equal access to information and knowledge; how they can improve education and preserve art and enrich our lives. But people are not that stupid (yet; however, if we do keep closing down those libraries...) – everyone knows all that. So I did what I so often do and made it personal. This is my library love story. Tell me yours?


  1. Ihana tarina lapsuudesta asti ja rakkaudestasi kirjoihin!
    Sydämellistä ystävänpäivää!

    1. Kiitos! Kirjat tekivät suuren vaikutuksen pieneen ihmiseen. :)

      Oikein ihanaista ystävänpäivää!