Lynne from Sparta, New Jersey

There was only one reason that I went to the Sparta Library for the first time. It was a last resort. I had my year and a half old daughter with me.  I couldn’t bear to go back to the hotel and stare at the beige walls and Fifty’s furniture. My other option was the A&P but their air conditioner was permanently set on “frigid”. Shopping there could have qualified me for the town team’s Sprint and Hurdle finals.

We had just moved to Sparta, New Jersey from Connecticut. I had naively believed our builder when he looked me square in the eye and said with a straight face,” Absolutely, you’ll be in your new house by Labor Day!”

So while my husband was high on a New Job Power Surge, I was trying to make our month long stay at the Valley View Hotel an “adventure”. That had a short life span. Eating at Burger King and walking back and forth from the post office became old very quickly.

The one bright spot in my day became my detour to the library. I packed Katie in her stroller and headed there every morning after her sister, Kelly and brother, Chris were off at school. The kind librarian (who must have been a recovering first-time new construction home buyer herself) took pity on me and allowed Katie to be a “late registrant” to her Story Hour. It was wonderful. I had a second home. (Well, technically, I guess, a first one).

The library changed my life.

I had always had a book in progress as a young girl but as a young mother my reading became random snippets- tabloids lining grocery store check- out aisles, outdated magazines at the pediatrician’s waiting room, and the always stimulating school lunch menus and take home bulletins. Now suddenly there was this unbelievable wealth of endless books! …..and for the first time in ages I had endless time. It was a match to be reckoned with. So I reckoned.

While Katie discovered Dr. Seuss and Amelia Bedelia, I discovered EVERYTHING.I started off being practical. I delved into the Interior Decorating shelves thinking of putting it to use in our new house. I quickly upgraded to Architecture and Structural Engineering. As it turned out, the snail’s pace of our contractor became an advantage because it wasn’t too late to incorporate some of my new found expertise into the mix- much to our builder’s exasperation. He meekly accepted this input as payback.

Next I was drawn to the History section of the library and learned everything about the founding of Sparta. It was a fascinating story of a small group of true visionaries who built a lake- and a town around it. I moved on to Travel, Real Estate, Antiques, Furniture Restoration, Constitutional Law, How-to Books and Biographies.

Fast forward THIRTY years.

Here’s how I put to use all that literary exposure. I offered decorating services on a free lance basis and did One Day Makeovers (before anyone heard of “Trading Spaces”).I hunted antique shops for some of these design projects. I restored old cupboards and tables. I became a trustee of the Sparta Historical Society. I became a licensed real estate agent. I volunteered at the Prosecutor’s office. I went back to school and earned a paralegal certification. I am active on various charitable boards and know ‘How to Organize Fundraisers”.

I still visit the Sparta Library at least weekly. I know everyone there and we’re just comfortable old friends. Although some of the staff has changed over time, they remain a group of lovely, helpful, fun women. To say I love our library is like saying that pecan pie is “just okay”.

…..the difference is now I take my GRANDchildren!

The library did not JUST change my life. It directed it and enhanced it and quite possibly saved it. (Thirty years ago there were not feel good support groups or anxiety management courses for displaced home buyers. I’m sure now they probably meet every Tuesday somewhere and have tee shirts with catchy logos.)

I had to survive alone at the library…. Lucky me.