As a teenager exhibiting an eagerness to discover a larger world of knowledge and understanding, my stepmom one day took me out and taught me how to look up and find adult-level resources. For me, that special visit to the librarywas as important to my adolescence as making it onto the football team was for other teens.
Even the immediate results were so exciting that I can still recall the exact emotions of that first visit to the adult nonfiction stacks. My stepmom’s guidance established a healthy habit in me that fed a very real hunger in my mind. Moreover, it proved a wonderful time in my growth because it was a happily unstructured form of learning. At the library, I learned things not at the behest of any teacher but just for the sake of my own awakening interests. I chose books that plotted paths designed by my own curiosity. Unlike school it was an entirely organic way to learn. Reading one book inspired me to read related books that I otherwise would never have known about or considered reading. In that era of my life, the library became like a sacred space for my psyche. In that special place, I could go as far as my mind desired and as the author chose to take me, utterly eliminating the material hindrances of merely living in a small town in Appalachian Ohio. Back then I had no thought of one day becoming a librarian. I just wanted to discover new things, and then imagine what the content of those books meant for the world in which I would one day have the advantages of adulthood.