Thank You, Libraries

Stephanie Wang, Staff Writer

Living my entire life in Arcadia and attending AUSD schools have gotten me accustomed to a few things over the years: the near-constant presence of wildlife, the vibrant Asian community and culture, and among others, the promise of an open library. 

Although I would only discover my interest and talent in writing in high school, I was always an avid reader (before high school, at least), devouring series after series: Warrior Cats, Percy Jackson, Ranger’s Apprentice, Inheritance Cycle. Moving into the upper elementary grades, I soon became drawn to the annual Book Battles, competitions exploring the diverse genres of books enclosed in the list the school librarians had painstakingly drawn up. 

I was never particularly social in school, and I would often find myself spending break and lunch in the libraries, asking the librarian and browsing the shelves for my next read, or getting ahead on schoolwork for the next day. 

The libraries were also a source of joy for me, and I still fondly remember my third grade teacher joking that I could use my newly-checked out, thick hardcover as a booster seat, as well as the Foothills librarian humorously telling me that I would run out of books at the rate I was reading when I went up to her for another historical fiction recommendation.

Even though my love for recreational reading has somewhat waned in my recent high school years—hello, required reading—the libraries, both the AHS library and the nearby Arcadia Public Library have never stopped being places of comfort and safety for me. 

Walking into the school library as I frequently do before and after school and during lunch, I’m greeted with a draft of refreshing AC and warm overhead lights shining down on the elevated monitors for printing–site of a frankly embarrassing number of close-call printing incidents before period 5 English–wooden shelves propping up books on display, and numerous scattered tables, chairs, and couches–areas for collaboration with friends at lunch or hurried individual work before Period 1. 

Meanwhile, strolling into the Arcadia Public Library down the street evokes nostalgic memories featuring a younger me: hearing the muffled thump of the inserted books sliding down the metal mouth and into the belly of the return bin, running my hands along the smooth wood of the wood-rimmed green desks, lounging around the soft rug of the children’s area listening to read-aloud stories, venturing into the bright lights and imposing shelves of the adult’s area for the first time. 

In addition to being the backdrops for some of my most treasured memories, the libraries more importantly also serve as places to find resources, to access the internet, to print, to gather the spirit of the community—the need for which has been illuminated by the closure of the libraries during the pandemic. 

While the availability of libraries for my open use has been something I’ve mistakenly taken for granted all these years, recent events remind me–us–that this is hardly the case. The reopenings of libraries in the new normal only further my gratitude for them as places of comfort for me.

Thank you, to libraries and to the hardworking librarians, custodians, and other staff that tirelessly work to keep these invaluable spaces operational.