As a little kid in the 1980s, I had assumed public libraries only existed on television — that they were part of a dream world that was totally unattainable in my own life as a child of Chinese immigrants. But when I was eight-years-old, a friend’s mother suggested we go get some books at the Library. In Calgary? Really? We had more than just school libraries here?
Roaming among shelf after shelf of books, I was hooked. I memorized the location of the Thorncliffe Library (now called Judith Umbach Library) and asked my mother to bring me back for my own Library card the following week. For a shy bookish girl, it was a dream come true.
I read almost everything, but my favourite books were by Beverly Cleary, Roald Dahl, and Judy Blume. As I got older I enjoyed reading The Baby-Sitters Club, Sweet Valley High, and other series. It was a treat to find them at the Library, since $3.95 for a book was pretty much an impossible sum of money to me as a kid.
Now as a mother of three, I have become a regular Library user again. At first, I signed up for a card so I could attend a baby class at Country Hills Library with my eldest, but then I got the Library app on my phone and everything changed.
It’s so easy to put books on hold through the app, and it has revitalized my reading. Last year I read 64 books, and most of those books were from the Library. I bring my kids to Country Hills Library at least every other week — sometimes more! — and they love to pick out all sorts of reading material. We take out about 20 books at a time. My girls, ages eight and seven, are big readers, and my three-year-old also loves to be read to.
The Library has always represented limitless possibility to me — so many books waiting to be read — and all that reading has inspired me to write my own book manuscript, a graphic memoir on postpartum depression.
While working on the book, I borrowed a lot of graphic novels and memoirs from the Library so I could get a good sense of other books in the genre. And I just want to say that whoever is responsible for acquiring graphic novels for the Library is doing an excellent job. The Library has been an invaluable resource for me both personally and professionally.
Follow Teresa and view her drawings on Instagram at @by_teresawong.
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