I remember the tiny library in Martin, South Dakota, where I grew up. The books I wanted were on the first of two aisles, eye-level. The Black Stallion Series by Walter Farley.
My first career goal: jockey. A dream blasted by the age of twelve by Swedish genetics.
Born to a long line of educators, the love of knowledge and the written word was something expected of me, and I embraced it by reading War and Peace in the bathtub at the age of eleven or twelve. Growing up, my sisters had plenty of books for me to borrow, but the wild west used to be a time when reading was a privilege and sometimes the only book was the Bible.
In the 1930s, President Franklin Roosevelt Works Progress Administration created the Pack Horse Library Initiative to help Americans become more literate so that they’d have
a better chance of finding employment. Riders would ride up to 120 miles per week to deliver books, magazines, and newspapers. This link has some great pictures of female librarians on horseback during that period. The program was suspended in 1943 with the start of WWII.
There are 150 Human Libraries around the world. I love this idea, the exchange of knowledge and experience while looking the author in the eyes, seeing their tears of anguish or joy. This is how stories should be told, especially the true ones.
They are each sitting at a round table and wearing yellow silk sashes with “book” written across. A dozen people have volunteered to become part of this human library set up in the London headquarters of an NGO called Crisis. They have all been through hard times. Some took drugs; others lived in the street or suffered from mental illnesses. They have put themselves at the public’s disposal and can be “borrowed” for half an hour, enough time to learn a little about their experience.
The Guinness Book of World Records holds the record for being the book most often stolen from public libraries.