I went into my neighborhood library after five years today and I didn’t even recognize it. They completely renovated the inside and updated it to meet every multimedia need possible, which I was very happy about. But the unfamiliar layout made me nostalgic for the structure which I had memorized over the course of my childhood and teenage years.
The Broadway branch of the Queens Public Library was my safe haven from kindergarten to my first year of college. I’ve lived in the same neighborhood of Astoria, Queens my whole life and I grew up going to that library. It was three blocks away from the apartment I spent most of my childhood in. I knew every nook and cranny of the children’s floor of the second floor. I knew that when you entered the second floor from the stairs, on the bookshelf near the right-hand side next to the bathrooms, I could find the Lion, The Witch, The Wardrobe series in the science fiction section. In the middle of the floor was where they put the newest editions of the Sweet Valley Twins and Baby sitters Club–that was always the first place I headed to. I knew that on the left, just past the librarian’s desk, towards the window, was where I could find my childhood favorite–Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter.
In junior high school, the library was the only place I could go to meet up with my friends and sometimes I would go just to read, daydream, and write my stories. Like all aspiring writers, I dreamed of when I would see my name on those shelves. In the eight grade, I used the library as an excuse to go out with my first boyfriend. I dumped my younger sister on the front steps of the library (I wasn’t allowed to go out without her), while I drove around in my high school boyfriend’s car. Once, my sister stood on the front steps of the library for two hours in the rain because it was closed and she had no way to call me! To say the least, she was pissed LOL.
I still went to the Broadway branch in high school, but less so because my school was all the way in the Bronx and I just went to my school library instead. In college, I stopped going to my neighborhood library completely, depending on the Internet and my university library.
I walked up to the children’s floor and started subconsciously looking for my favorite books. The science fiction corner was still there, but now Stephanie Meyers Twilight series replaced the Sweet Valley Twins. No matter, it was still the same.