dear readers, to the Summer edition of the Book Again folklore
column. You may recall that I left you last time with Mrs. Barclay
in that magic "otherwise unused room downstairs" at
the old Malaga Cove Library. Back at the dawn of the 1960's, we
young ones would gather there every Monday morning to be introduced
to the Classics: "Make Way for Ducklings", "Babar
the Elephant", innumerable Dr Seuss tales, and so many more.
you can see, these reading circles were tailored for the very
young, as presumably the slightly elder children could muddle
through the words themselves. Still, having younger brothers,
I was able in later years to pop in from time to time, just to
relive the magic of Early Memory, and was consequently introduced
to a most unusual Nanny named Mary Poppins mere weeks before the
film was released.
remember librarian Mrs. Barclay for so much more, though. She
was my guide into the mysterious realm of the Unread -- and, as
anyone who knew me as a child can confirm, she must have had the
patience of a saint to put up with me.
I would come bolting into the library, head straight for her,
and immediately insist on her complete attention and cooperation.
Nothing else would do but that she drop everything, listen to
whatever strange request I had that week become fixated upon,
and take me into that secret garden to find a good match.
she would. With a smile. And we would move through those magic
shelves, she looking, thinking, scrutinizing, myself a step back,
hardly daring to breathe lest I disturb the alchemy at work. And
at length I would have been introduced to yet another treasure
or two for the week.
were the best, of course.
are always the best for reading. If none of us have quite the
spare time we ought to, we at least usually have a bit more of
it in Summer. And certainly Summer and Reading go hand in hand
for kids -- the Malaga Cove Summer Reading program led to the
creation of one of my most prized possessions -- a photograph,
published in the local newspaper, of Mrs. Barclay and I -- reading,
will never know whether I first found books, or rather, with gentle
guidance from parents and librarians, books found me. All I can
tell you is that reading was a huge part of my life from the first,
and a good majority of my fondest Summer memories revolve around
books, and most often around that magical place of reading in
Malaga Cove that, amazingly, still stands and functions as before,
looking very much as it did 50 years ago. To talk to today's librarians
around the country, you will hear many things about the Changing
Role of the Library, about what Must be Done to Adapt, about the
importance of the Library as an Information Community, etc. --
you will hear about almost everything except books. Such is the
state of things, as even here at Book Again we cannot help but
wonder whether we ourselves will see another Summer, or perhaps
be prematurely Kindled out of existence.
is of little matter though -- things will change, with or without
us, and it will do absolutely no good to shout "Get a horse!"
to the makers of electronic books. Though all the actual paper
in the world may disappear, we will continue to read, and be read
do however confess to a most profound sadness.
for myself, though -- rather I am sad for the generations as yet
unborn, at the thought that they may not have that same wonderful
feeling, standing a step back from the magic librarian, hardly
daring to breathe lest they disturb the alchemy at work. I pray
it never comes to that.
must therefore point out with delight that, far from going the
way of so many other wonderful rituals of old, the "reading
time" tradition at Malaga Cove (and all the Palos Verdes
libraries) has actually expanded -- so that even now, in 2011,
more children than ever are beginning that wonderful journey that
has served me so well these many years.
now, somewhat ironically, the restrictions of the printed page
compel me to conclude -- I must leave you here, though there is
so much more I could say.
I could write a book...