I find the brick building tucked between a Church and park. I just about walk past it because of all the foliage, but the white sign causes me stop and look.
I practically sprint up the pathway and through the doors out of excitement. When my mum and I moved here two days ago, there was no mention of a library anywhere. It’s my opinion that a town isn’t a proper town without a library. Where do people get the knowledge that only books can provide if they don’t have a library? I suppose you can buy them, but at least anyone can go to the library.
On entering, I find myself practically trampled as a group of eight or so teenagers make their way for the door. I’m shouldered by one guy in particular who turns around to give me the death stare and I wave my hand in apology.
“Sorry, bro,” I tell him, but he’s already gone.
The building is a strange shape. At first it seems rectangular, but once I get around the front desk, I realise it’s kind of crossroad shaped. Its way bigger than my old library, that’s for sure.
“Can I help you?” a voice asks behind me and I turn to see a smallish girl with long brown hair dressed all in black. My eyes zoom in on the nametag.
“Hi Christina Marshall! I’m knew to the town and just now realised that this place existed. I was hoping to check it out and possibly get a membership?”
Christina bights her lip and looks over at a clock on the wall. 5pm.
“We were actually about to close, but I guess I’ll be able to stay a little while longer and help you out. I do need to be home by 5:30pm.”
I could practically kiss the girl, but I settle on clasping my hands in relief.
“God bless you, Christina. I’ve been dying ever since we got here for new books. I tried re-reading the ones I have at home, but I’ve read them that many times that I could recite them by memory.”
“It’s obvious you’re a big reader,” she laughs as she leads me back to the front desk. “How often do you read?”
“Everyday,” I tell her. “It’s my hobby and my number one thing to do on the weekend.”
“Same,” she says and pulls out a big book under the desk and grabs a pencil. “Okay so I need your name, date of birth, address and phone number written along here.”
I fill out the details and pull the needed money from my pocket to pay for the card.
I lean against the counter as she goes into the backroom to get the card made.
“Hello there young man.”
I turn around for the second time to find a plump old lady smiling up at me. What can I say? At ten years old, I was as tall as my dad.
“Hi,” I say awkwardly. Her nametag reads “Maribeth”.
“Unfortunately, we’re about to close so maybe come back tomorrow? It’s just us ladies are on a tight schedule.”
“Ummm,” I start to mumble, but Christina reappears.
“It’s okay Maribeth. I’ll be able to stay a little longer and I promise I will get home before dark.”
Maribeth stares at me for a little longer before shrugging her shoulders. “I’ll finish packing stuff up then. Make sure you lock everything up.”
“No worries,” she nods.
I turn back around and tap my hands on the desk.
“Thank you,” I tell her. “If it is a problem though, I can certainly come back tomorrow.”
“No it’s alright. I don’t really mind. I would stay longer, but my mum has this rule I have to be back before dark.”
“My mum’s the same. It does make sense. No offence or anything, but this town doesn’t seem like one where you can wander around on your own after dark without being attacked.”
“Unfortunately you are very right.”
A beeping noise starts up and Christina excuses herself to go back into the room again. When she comes out, she holds up my new card.
“All done,” she smiles. “This allows you to borrow fifteen items at a time which can be kept for up to a month.”
“Thanks for that,” I pocket the card and smile.
“I have to start locking up, but that takes a while so if you’d like, you’re very welcome to search for some things. Sing out if you need anything.”
I joyfully begin to explore the shelves of many books. I skip the movies and children books to start exploring the older novels. I’m surprised at the vast collection they hold in such a small place. I slide my fingers along the spines, searching for any that seem interesting enough. When I’m done in the young adult section, I move on to the adults and search for more. By the time I return to the front desk, Christina’s shutting down the computers.
“Good timing,” she says when she sees me coming. “I left one on so I can lend them out to you.”
“Very appreciated,” I tell her and drop the six books onto the bench.
She whizzes them through the system before starting to log it down.
“So you’re new, right? Where do you plan on going to school?” she asks during the process.
“Mum has me signed up for the state school. She initially wanted me to go to a private school, but stick-up kids are hardly any fun.”
“That’s true,” she tells me. “However, there’s a lot of bullying in the state. If you can get through that though, it’s pretty good. The teachers are lovely.”
“Do you go to the state?”
Stupid question if she knows about the bullying. I’m reminded of the kids that left as I came in.
“Were the group of kids that left before from the state school?” I ask as I walk around the desk to pickup my loans.
“Yeah. They only come here to use the free wifi. Sometimes I want to switch it off just to drive them crazy but Denise, another librarian, says that’s bad customer service.”
“That’s funny,” I laugh. “They must have done something horrible to deserve to deserve such hate.”
“Trust me, they do. You need to stay away from them. They’re the ones that cause all the bullying and hate.”
I’m reminded of the guy who gave me the evil eye and a cold chill goes down my spine.
“I can handle them,” I tell her. “There’s tricks to it.”
“There sure is.”
After she passes me the books, I help her lower a protective screen from the ceiling to keep out mass book thieves. I wait for her to switch off the lights too before we finally leave the through the automatic doors which close after she locks it.
She seems almost surprised that I’ve waited with her.
“I better head off,” she glances at her watch. “It’s only a five minute walk, but if I’m late, I’ll have my books confiscated.”
“So long then,” I give a wave. “I’ll be back when I’m ready for more books.”
“You do that,” she laughs as we walk down the path together and turns right.
I smile myself as I head in the opposite direction.