Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The First Library

This was my first library, and surely that alone makes it special. Though I am but one in thousands who have crossed the threshold, I have a sense of ownership here. (I always want to spell libraries with a capitol L, don't you?) I learned about books, music and writing in this place. About life, travel and adventure! Do you remember your first library?

Let me introduce you to my fine old building, dating back to 1864. Though her bones are elderly, the Multnomah County Library in Portland, Oregon is still a beauty. As a girl, I was in awe of the sweeping marble staircases, tall windows and echoing ceilings. Young as I was, I sensed the magic of creativity and great thoughts at work. My mother would drop me off in the children's section, and I would be content for hours. The smell of dust and old paper always takes me back to those treasured days. (Don't all libraries have that smell?)
The library taught me to spread my wings, to see the rest of the world around me. I grew to love my hometown as well.
Portland is divided by the Willamette River, but there are many bridges. They carried me safely across the water in my teenage years. And back home again.
The City of Roses is encircled by ancient trees that have seen it grow and expand. They were there when my library was built!

Set like a jewel in the hills, the Rose Gardens offer peace and solitude. I visited this beautiful place with my children after being away for 17 years, and my eyes filled with tears. Sometimes, you can go home again.

I once wrote a poem for this Raymond Kaskey statue. (See? Libraries make you think you can do anything!) Her name is Portlandia, and she is the second-largest copper figure in the United States.
Cannon Beach is about an hour west of Portland, and my family owned a small cabin there. In moments of loneliness and longing, I would sit in the sand, look out over the crashing Pacific Ocean, and dream of the future. (Of course, libraries place great stock in hopes and dreams.) Who knew that after years of searching for the love of my life, he'd ask me to marry him in that exact spot on the sand?
Mt. Hood sits on the other side of Portland. I picked huckleberries with my mother there in the summer, and my father showed me how to ski on those slopes in the winter time. (Libraries instill a lifelong desire to improve!)

Thanks for taking this sentimental journey with me. I remember who I am by occasionally looking back and that sparks my motivation to move forward.

Where was your first library? Is there a city that makes you sentimental? Do you have fond memories of your hometown?


  1. My first proper library (not counting school libraries where I practically lived! LOL!)was Wood Green Library in North London near my secondary school. It was a located in one of the poorest roughest shopping centre but it was a proper haven. Homeless people found shelter, we kids found a quiet place to study and do our homework and it was a proper community library with very helpful hands on library staff.

    Now the shopping centre is all dolled up, poshed up and sparkly new. I hear the library is still there. I hope it's the same as how I remember it! LOL!

    Thank you so much lovely Roxy for your beautiful trip down memory lane - both literary, romantically and Library-ly! LOL!

    LIBRARIES rock!!
    take care

  2. I have always wanted to live in Portland I think it has a good weather balance and these pictures are just beautiful.
    I love strolling on the boardwalk by the Thames in the evenings especially in autumn, its magical.

  3. Lovely post. My first library was in the town of Brentwood,Essex in the south of England and on a return visit and wanting to look inside sadly found it was no a children's nursery school and closed!
    It was on a hot summer day during the second world war when our teacher took us for a walk up the hill to the little town and introduced us to a library for the first time, and wonder of wonders, we were given a library card and allowed to take books home!

  4. Beautiful country! I moved around a lot as a child, so few places really stick in my mind. Arizona was nice.

  5. So, so lovely. My first library was in Kennewick, WA! I've never been to the library in Portland you mentioned ... BUT, did get engaged on that very beach you did!!

  6. The first library I remember going to (OFTEN!) was in our small rural-ish town in Texas that we moved to when I was about 7 or 8. It was a small, ugly building that also served as the courthouse.

    Your first library looks AMAZING!

  7. What a nice tribute to your library. It's beautiful.

    My first library was in Jackson Heights in Queens, NY. But we moved when I was nine and I can't remember what it looked like. But I remember and still pass by my childhood library whenever I visit Long Island.

  8. *sigh* I LOVE libraries! My first memory of a library is the old war memorial Library in Lower Hutt. They had this neat kids section with tons of giant cushions that were great for piling high and then 'vanishing' into with a good book :)


  9. Oh, I love this post, thank you! I'm on holidays at the moment, and although I haven't been that homesick, suddenly I'm librarysick! My first library is still my current library, and one of my favourite places to be. I feel so calm and safe in there. I remember the aisles of my primary school library as well, where you could hide down one end, leaning against the wall, and read all lunchtime. Well, if you were an incurable nerd, anyway, which I certainly was!

  10. My first library in my hometown and I used to LOVE going there. I would get piles of books and head home, then spend all afternoon reading! Funny, I can still smell that library even today!

  11. Stunning photos, Roxy!

    You never forget your first library. Mine was in London and I'll never forget how the rows of shelves seemed like endless lanes of mystery to me.


  12. My first library was in Danville Kentucky. That's where I learned to browse randomly in order to expose my brain to new things. I was there when they opened their "teen room" and checked out my first Beatles music and the Dungeons & Dragons rules in their original box. It will always be a safe place in my mind.

  13. Portland looks like a great place to visit.


  14. I'm back!

    If you get a chance, please visit my blog "Substitute Teacher's Saga". I'm having a Halloween Haunting. Enter to win great prizes!

  15. I visited Portland, OR this past summer. My little sister lives there. She brought us to the Rose Gardens. Glorious!! We didn't visit the library, but we did go to Powell's, the biggest bookstore I've ever seen! I love your pictoral tour of your home. My first library was a bookmobile - books came to us rural families on a big, blue bus!