Mary Grace Becker: For the love of the library

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I am at peace. I am at home. Who doesn't love the pleasure of one's own company inside a hometown public library?

My library, the Pikes Peak Library District's Briargate branch on the north end, is a pocket library, smallish. It can't compete in size with the elder Penrose branch downtown, or the East Library on Union Blvd. Yet, it is a warm, cozy, often noisy, home-away-from-home space for many of its users. Visitors sense its vibrancy as soon as they walk in.

Things are happening here. Brains are being fed.

I jostle with my coat as I read the announcements on the library's community bulletin board. Let's see. New members are welcome to join the Briargate Book Club; meetings are the 2nd Wednesday of each month. Hmm. The AARP Driver Safety Program is all booked up for December. (Bummer. There go our insurance rates.) And the Pikes Peak Library district is looking for shelvers. All the while 'Chatty Cathy,' the checkout machines behind me, remind me that I'm not lost. I've come to the library, the birthplace of inspiration for readers and writers and needy community dwellers everywhere.

From a sunny west window seat I watch today's families explore fulfillment at their public library.In the Computer Lab, patrons of all ages search the Internet. There's not a seat to be had. In the center space, Moms and Dads browse the CD and DVD collections with antsy toddlers in tow. To my right, teens make conversation on funky, high-backed couches. And although I can't see it, I know from the rumbling beneath my feet that little tykes on a reading high are running need-a-nap-crazy in the Children's Room. Lastly, the library's local art display shows what's spirit-possible when graphite meets a passionate hand.

When I am done being a busybody, my mood draws my spirit back to the reads at hand: the quirky but satisfying Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and Nancy Tillman's warm-hearted children's book, On the Night You Were Born. Before I leave I will also browse a back issue of Arts & Antiques magazine and bookmark a know-it-all hardcover on how to fix the broken thingamajig in my dishwasher.

Wit, wisdom, experience and expertise.I am overwhelmed by my library's generosity. Community libraries throughout Colorado Springs provide resources and services to all residents without regard for income, race, color, national origin, religion or handicap. In other words, we bookworms come in many shapes and sizes, sense and sensibilities.

There are a precious few places today where institutions exist to serve the public wholeheartedly and who ask for so little in return. So here's a thank you to our hometown libraries. These year-round hubs put out the welcome mat no matter what the economic climate and in doing so, empower its users to a fuller and freer sense of what it means to be all you can be...heart, mind, and soul.

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