Poetry Friday: In praise of libraries

Poetry Friday is hosted by Robyn at Read, Write, Howl

     Just this week three more students have asked if they can bring their Kindles in for Reading Workshop, bringing the total number of kids who prefer to read this way to twelve…just in my class!   I’m all for technology in my classroom, and yearn for the day when we will have laptops that work, or (heaven!) ipads with which to do all the stuff that I hear other teachers are up to.  But, a part of me (the old lady teacher part, the old school part, I guess) is rather sad to see this.  I love bookstores and libraries, I love the way you can wander through them and leaf through books that look enticing –  their covers have personalities, offer invitations, welcome observations.  And I love books – I carry several around in a voluminous bag, and can’t imagine a life without pages to turn, dog ear, write notes on.  I love picking up a book I read long ago and discovering what I thought and was long ago – as notations, ticket stubs, maps, menus and photgraphs that have been  tucked away long ago come tumbling out and reveal themselves. So, today’s poems are in celebration of one of my favorite book-y places: libraries

My First Memory (of Librarians)
by Nikki Giovanni
This is my first memory:
A big room with heavy wooden tables that sat on a creaky
       wood floor
A line of green shades—bankers’ lights—down the center
Heavy oak chairs that were too low or maybe I was simply
       too short
              For me to sit in and read
So my first book was always big

In the foyer up four steps a semi-circle desk presided
To the left side the card catalogue
On the right newspapers draped over what looked like
       a quilt rack
Magazines face out from the wall

The welcoming smile of my librarian
The anticipation in my heart
All those books—another world—just waiting
At my fingertips.


by Valerie Worth

No need even
To take out
A book: only
Go inside
And savor
The heady
Dry breath of
Ink and paper,
Or stand and
Listen to the
Silent twitter
Of a billion
Tiny busy
Black words. 

Wouldn’t it be great to curl up in one of these places and read a book??!!


7 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: In praise of libraries

  1. I do love curling up in a comfy spot with a paper and ink book. Nothing like it. But I also love the portability and adaptability of ereaders. Isn't it great to be able to change the font (bigger, for instance!) and carry SO MANY classics in a small package? And it's wonderful that kids have such incredible access these days. As much as I love brick and mortar libraries, and of course we still need them as places, libraries are not defined by walls.

  2. Thanks for the nod to libraries! I share your old school preferences for traditional books but also like my e-reader. I just recently borrowed library books with it! Wonders never cease.

  3. I too have discovered how much I like my IPad, but your poems brought back fond memories, especially of the old card catalog. When I would search for a book, I remember getting caught up in all the cards describing books that surrounded the one I needed, something like looking up a word in a dictionary.

  4. The Kindles have their place but they can't duplicate the experience of visiting a used books store and opening an old book to see the wonderful letterpress printing and even handwritten notations by previous owners.

  5. Hear, hear! Love these poems, and the pictures, and real, cumbersome books – fresh off the press or musty. I even miss the old cards in the borrowed books – it was fun seeing who had checked them out before! Thanks for sharing, Tara.

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