My Library Experiences
Cheung Chiu Shan
In my mind, spending time in a library is
one of the great enjoyments of life.....

During my childhood years, I attended a school with no library. Students had to make do with a reading room that provided a limited selection of children's books. I remember the first book I read in the reading room ---- a short, vividly illustrated story depicting the life of some ants.
               While a group of ants were busy looking for food to store away in the summertime, one lone ant whiled away its days by singing, dancing, and playing a violin. When winter came and heavy snow blanketed the ground, the little ant, rejected by other ants for not participating in gathering food, froze to death in the bitter cold. The powerful moral lesson of the story left a deep impression on me. For a while, I had recurring dreams of the lazy ant being punished and left out in the cold for not working hard in its youth.
               The Chung Chi College Library, overlooking the serene and picturesque Tolo Harbor, was located in a two-storied building. The library was often filled with studious students doing homework assignments. During recess, seats are difficult to find. When the bell rang for classes to begin, students would dash out of the library, leaving behind books and personal belongings to signal their intention to return. In those days, books in the English language and literature section were mostly old and some were tattered. As Chung Chi did not have a strong endowment, I thought the shortage of new books was due to a lack of adequate funding.
              After graduating from Chung Chi, I moved to California and worked part-time at the Special Collections Library of the Claremont Colleges while attending classes. Housed in a high-ceiling building with a grand interior, the Special Collections Library boasted quite a few rare books. My work involved cataloging the rare books and keeping a close watch on students who read in a specially designated area of the library.
               Rare books, treated like precious gems, did not circulate. I was instructed to handle the rare books as gently as possible as I worked. Book cataloging required a brief perusal of the books, which I greatly enjoyed. How delightful it was to get paid for reading rare books. I wished I could stay longer at the Special Collections Library, but at semester's end, I finished my studies and had no choice but to move on to the next phase of my life.
               In my mind, spending time in a library is one of the great enjoyments of life. That is why I live close to a public library. I like walking to my neighborhood library in the early evening, when most people are at home preparing or eating dinner. With only a few patrons reading books or doing research on the computers, the spacious library is a very quiet place affording peace and comfort.
               I like to browse through new books as I enjoy learning something through serendipity. New books with fresh, clean and crisp pages are irresistible, especially the ones with illustrations. I used to bring a stack of books home. As time passes, I have learnt not to succumb to the temptation of borrowing more than I can read.
               There is something special about the library in a small town. I went to the library yesterday. The minute I walked through the door, the librarian at the circulation desk knew instantly who I was and pulled some reserved videos for me to check out. Later, sitting and reading through an article in a magazine, I was approached by a patron who asked if I would like to read the local paper that she had just finished.
               Reading is an addiction, a life long habit. I love my neighborhood library for the books that broaden my horizons and stories that set my imagination ablaze. I love it even more because of the friendly staff and nice people that I often meet.
Home | Index