Caroline from Bloomfield, Connecticut

Our town library is not just a place to get books (though I am decidedly grateful for those!); it is a veritable hub of social connection and community activity.  Prosser library was in essence the first stepping stone to my evolving into an active community member in my town.

We moved to this town in 1997, three years before our first child was born.  My husband and I moved to here for purely utilitarian reasons; Bloomfield was halfway between my husband’s work and my own new job.  Luckily, we found a great house to rent with an acre of land in a nice neighborhood.  We liked the small-American-town feel in the center of town.  It didn’t matter to me so much at that time that we didn’t know a soul in Bloomfield and that most of our friends would be an hour or more drive away.  We were both working and getting our degrees; there wasn’t much time for socializing anyway.

Fast forward three years: In a three-month time period, in the early spring of 2000, we A) bought the house we were renting, B) bought a new car, C) got married and D) found we were expecting!  Quite all at once, we were not just in Bloomfield for logistical reasons.  Now we needed to grow roots.  Now we would begin a garden.  Now we would raise our kids here. My daughter, Isabelle, was born in November of 2000.

Enter the library.  Isabelle was just a few months old when I first brought her to the town library.  She was just six months old when we participated in our first of several play groups hosted and run by staff in the children’s department of the library.  In that first class I met my first close female friend in my own town.  We clicked right away. The next four years were a blur of playdates, shared dinners and birthday parties (our daughters were just one week apart in age).  That friend has since moved out of state, but she and her daughter were very important first friendships in Bloomfield for me and my daughter.

But my connections made through the library transcend just one friendship.  Other mothers and staff people whom I met or got to know at the library’s children’s department were involved in various community and civic organizations with which I then became associated.  In addition, I learned of my daughter’s beloved preschool through mothers whom I originally met at library-sponsored activities. 

I now have a second child, my son, Thomas.  While my daughter is at Kindergarten, my son and I often visit the library to look at board books together and to play with the train set in the middle of the children’s department.  There I invariably see the familiar faces of people I have now known for years.  There is something so comforting and joyful about really feeling that you a part of the fabric of your own community, and that you can in turn have an impact on how this fabric is woven.

I am sure that thousands of people like me across the country have taken part in their town libraries’ resources just as I have.  That does not dilute the strength of my own individual experience: the town library has been an essential facet in the nurturance of my family’s growing roots in this community.