Heather from Ringwood, New Jersey

Some of my earliest memories are of my library. My mom volunteered there and took me with her. The Library Director, who is still with the library, remembers me sitting up on the circulation desk counter. The library was small then. The children’s section was downstairs in The Basement. I learned to search books in a card catalog and was proud to understand how to do it!

The library was always there when I needed something for a report, flipping through pages of encyclopedias. I remember learning some stories for the first time on film strips: Watership Down, Velveteen Rabbit... I loved finding Richard Scary low on the shelves; what fun books!

I remember changes: they moved things around, they added books to space that was once just a study area. They did their best with the little space they had.

I used the library all through high school, even though, by then, the school libraries seemed bigger and more resourceful. I went away to college and was blown away by the size of the library and the amount of resources. Overwhelming. I’d find a cozy little room or cubicle just to mimic the intimate feeling of my hometown library.

All along, my mom was supporting the library and fighting for a new location, somewhere to build a bigger library that could also serve as a community center. My town does not have many places for community groups to meet. She was part of a greater whole, The Friends of the Ringwood Public Library.

Their dream finally came true in 2000. The old library sold off many things it would no longer need – so I have a part of history in my basement at home – a table, a trash can, shelving, and folding chairs with RPL painted on the back.

After the hard work of many dedicated volunteers, some of whom are gone now, there was a beautiful new building closer to the center of town. Bright, open, with a big community room in The Basement. This basement, however, had no mold.

As I began to have a family, this library provided a source of comfort in the isolated, lonely days of early motherhood: There were volunteers who had an infant/toddler story time. They started in The Basement and finally moved up into the children’s area with mini-amphitheater.

When those volunteers moved away, I took over as volunteer reader. As my children aged, I switched to running a homework club. And now, I am part of a group reviving The Friends of the Ringwood Public Library.

Keep in mind, this is a story of how my hometown library has affected three generations of one family, not how I’m turning into my mother! We are not working toward a new location, but just to help keep up the wonderful programs and services our library provides for our town.

In a time where there is less money available for maintenance and upgrade costs, we are hoping to find other library-lovers to help us in our pursuit to keep our “new” library as beautiful as it is.

As for the third generation: my boys love the events at the library: magicians, musicians, stories, book clubs, crafts….They find videos and Wii games to take out on their very own library cards. My older son sits in a cozy chair to read independently, while my younger son and I practice his sight words at a work table. (It feels like I’m back in my college library!) My boys never sat on the circulation desk counter, but they do love running in The Basement hallway. #LivesChange