Books are my drug of choice

Herriman» Last Thursday, I attended an open house. There were no refreshments, no wine or cheese. Not even root beer and Fritos for that matter. It was in the Herriman City Library.

The Herriman library is actually only a library in the sense that it has books, a few shelves, and is run by women who seem nice enough but are probably capable of violence if you make too much noise. .

Currently, our book repository is just a couple of rooms in a strip mall behind a Jiffy Lube. It’s not bad as small libraries go, but frankly I have more books in my basement. We deserve a better one. Not only has Herriman grown, plenty of us can even read.

The good news is that a new bigger and better library is on the way. The open house was to show off the artist’s renderings and give the public a chance to talk to the architects, county officials and workers without having to whisper.

As a journalist, I had plenty of questions. For the sake of space, here are the answers: “No, there will not be a helicopter pad, XXX-rated reading room, free doughnuts, hot tub, or parking for elephants. Please sit down.”

Before I did, I forced them to admit one important thing. The new Herriman library will have way more books, thousands and thousands of them. Eventually maybe even a million. I’m happy. You can’t go wrong with books.

Driving home I thought about all the libraries of my youth, many of them smaller than our current knothole of a facility. My family moved a lot and books were my drug of choice. There was only one place to get them legally.

———————————————————

The old man said, “You ditched school

for an entire week and went to

… the library?”

———————————————————

The smallest library I ever held a card for was actually a utility truck. The “bookmobile” came through our desert town once a week. Selection was limited but the driver/librarian was a godsend.

The driver’s name was Lloyd and he only had one foot. Depending on the intensity of his breath, he lost the other in the war or a hay baler.

Lloyd saw that I was bored. He introduced me to Joseph Altsheler’s Forest Runner series. We’ll probably never know how many lives he saved among those unfortunate enough to be stuck in the middle of nowhere with me.

The libraries of my life range from that bookmobile to the Library of Congress. Some are better than others but I’ve never visited one I would have complained about being locked in for the night.

I was thrown out of a library only once. A city librarian figured out that no 15-year-old kid belonged in a library three days in a row during the school year and called the cops.

For once, the old man wasn’t mad that he had to leave work and come and get me. He was deeply confused. The look on his face was a blend of pity and pride.

“Let me see if I got this straight,” he said. “You ditched school for an entire week and went to … the library?”

It’s the only time telling the truth ever got me out of a whacking.

— Robert Kirby

Robert Kirby is a columnist for The Salt Lake Tribune. This story originally appeared his “Kirby” column, February 4, 2009. http://www.sltrib.com/ci_11617648

Reprinted in Utah Libraries with permission of The Salt Lake Tribune

One thought on “Books are my drug of choice”

  1. When I was a kid I used to go to the basement of the library (that’s where they kept kids and their books back in the day) and browse all the kid books.

    I would sneak and “help” the librarian by making sure all of the books were pushed all the way back, in perfect order.

    I would start at the “first” and try to check out all of the books in the “A” section then move on to the “B” section thinking that I could have a corner on all of the knowledge of the universe if I read every book in the library.

    I read my dad’s 1934 set of Encyclopedia Britannica. The entire thing. Wow did that take more than a day. All of that in MY basement with the lights down dark so nobody would know what I was up to. I wonder if that’s why I got cat eye glasses eventually??

    I just liked to read. And I did all of it in the sly, in the dark, in the basement.

    The reason for all the secrecy? To get out of a whacking.

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