Dipti from Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania

My first encounter with the public library system was nearly thirty years ago.  It was in the second grade and I had just emigrated from India.  Fortunately, all of my education had been in English.  As a foreigner, I was floundering and thirsty to gain knowledge about the customs, geography, history…basically, just everything about my new home. 

Even those who could not afford to buy books, like my family, could come and benefit from the knowledge between the covers of thousands of volumes of books.  Soon, I found that treasure trove of factual information called ‘Encyclopedias’. “What a wonderful idea!” I thought.  Since that time the public library has been an integral part of innumerable aspects of my life.

A few years later, in middle school, I discovered that these wondrous edifices housed millions of journals too.  In those days, I would spend hours after school and on the weekend to research the latest articles on the “Effects of the Depletion of the Ozone Layer on our Earth’s Environment”.

Another research project I did was the “The Etiology and Comprehensive Classification of Cancer”.  It was not until much later that I recognized the impact that information would have for me in my future career as a physician.  Over the years, I was better equipped to care for, educate and understand patients with malignancies.

Many rainy afternoons or ‘snow-days’, I would go to this haven and fondly thumb through the card-catalogue.  One cannot help but marvel at the ingenuity of Mr. Dewey and his decimal system!  Each time my journeys were rewarded with riches, some ancient and some contemporary.

In the 1980’s, the public library system began to acquire videotapes. This became yet another medium through which I reconnected with India.  The NYC Public Library in Jamaica Queens houses the largest selection of foreign films and foreign television productions.  It was by watching these that I maintained my grasp of two foreign languages and even learned a third, Spanish.

As my family prospered, we were able to travel.  At the library, I found maps of Europe and was able to chart out an entire road trip for us!

As my education and career took shape, the public library would provide a place to meet peers, form study groups, and even take an occasional diversion to refresh the mind.  After college, I lived in many places.  In each new locale, it was comforting to know that the public library would always welcome everyone.

Just when life was so hectic that I thought I could not find the time to read books, there were audiobooks!  Those long or frequent drives to and from the hospital while on-call, I could get a way from the stress and intensity even if just for a few moments.   Later, while my children accompanied me, they too could be entertained (educated) by books-on-tape.

At this phase in my life, I find the Lackawanna County Library system’s story hours and demonstrations to enrich the development of my family as well as my personal growth as a parent.

The public library is a dynamic and evolving entity.  An ancient proverb says “That which is able to change with the times will endure”. Keeping pace with the computer revolution, the library has become interactive right from my desk at home and work.  I am reminded of any materials coming due and upcoming library and community events! 

It has been eleven thousand and eighty eight days since I first entered a public library, I am in anticipation of going there for many tomorrows.  Furthermore, I can say with conviction that I will be rewarded!