Monday, March 21, 2016

Libraries Saved My Life

Remembering the Old Main Library of Cincinnati

I remember walking into a library as if entering a sacred place, the high ceilings my cathedral. Scanning those tall shelves was like coming forward and kneeling at an altar. Libraries saved my life.

I couldn’t get enough of books—until I visited a library and came to understand that I wouldn’t ever have enough time for all the books I wanted to read.

I must’ve had to convince my father to drive me to the Kettering Library a couple times a month. Can you imagine! I couldn’t download or read online. There was no other way to gratify my pernicious itch to read except by going to a library—and for that I needed an adult.

Until a branch was built JUST DOWN THE STREET. Yay! The only drawback was I had to wait until they opened. There were nights when I made lists of all the titles I’d search the card catalog for or subjects I wanted to research. I know I’d take my library card right up to the limit. It was only in reading that I felt my truest self.

Recently I heard about the Gerber/Hart Library in Andersonville. A sanctuary for LGBT youth and adults. Over 14,000 volumes, 800 periodical titles, and 100 archival collections. Now one doesn’t need to be ashamed to come in and ask for a particular title. One time a librarian warned me, saying a title was much too mature for me. Yet she allowed me to take it out. I was afraid she might call my parents to ask their permission. Once again reduced to that feeling of being at their mercy. You see if Dad didn’t want to drive me then I was stuck until the next weekend when maybe he’d take me in the car.

I’m so proud of my city—that LGBT kids can have a home much like the Woodbourne Library was for me in Centerville, Ohio.

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